Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2020 and 2021 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 66129-66145 [2019-26090]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105–277; Pub. L. 106– 31; Pub. L. 106–554; Pub. L. 108–199; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 109–241; Pub. L. 109– 479. Dated: November 26, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–26088 Filed 12–2–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 191126–0093] RIN 0648–XH080 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2020 and 2021 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; harvest specifications and request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2020 and 2021 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). The 2020 harvest specifications supersede those previously set in the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, and the 2021 harvest specifications will be superseded in early 2021 when the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications are published. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: Comments must be received by January 2, 2020. DATES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 Submit your comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2019–0074, by either of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20190074, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Records Office. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668. Instructions: 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), 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). Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS, the annual Supplementary Information Reports (SIRs) to the Final EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action are available from https:// www.regulations.gov. An updated 2020 SIR for the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications will be available from the same source. The final 2018 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2018, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501–2252, phone 907–271–2809, or from the Council’s website at https://www.npfmc.org/. The 2019 SAFE report for the BSAI will be available from the same source. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 implement the FMP and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it, under the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. ADDRESSES: PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 66129 The FMP and its implementing regulations require that NMFS, after consultation with the Council, specify annually the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum of TACs for all groundfish species in the BSAI must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see § 679.20(a)(1)(i)(A)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires that NMFS publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal Register and solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof, prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances, prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves established by § 679.21, seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC, American Fisheries Act allocations, Amendment 80 allocations, Community Development Quota (CDQ) reserve amounts established by § 679.20(b)(1)(ii), and acceptable biological catch (ABC) surpluses and reserves for CDQ groups and Amendment 80 cooperatives for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 15 of this action satisfy these requirements. Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 2019 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 2020 SIR to the Final EIS that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the final 2019 SAFE reports prepared for the 2020 and 2021 groundfish fisheries. Other Actions Affecting or Potentially Affecting the 2020 and 2021 Harvest Specifications Reclassify Sculpins as an Ecosystem Component Species In October 2019, the Council recommended that sculpins be reclassified in the FMP as an ‘‘ecosystem component’’ species, which is a category of non-target species that are not in need of conservation and management. Currently, NMFS annually sets an overfishing level (OFL), ABC, and TAC for sculpins in the BSAI groundfish harvest specifications. Under the Council’s recommended action, OFL, ABC, and TAC specifications for sculpins would no longer be required. NMFS intends to develop rulemaking to implement the Council’s recommendation for sculpins. Such a rulemaking would prohibit directed E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 66130 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules fishing for sculpins, maintain recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and establish a sculpin maximum retainable amount when directed fishing for groundfish species at 20 percent to discourage retention, while allowing flexibility to prosecute groundfish fisheries. Further details (and public comment on the sculpin action) will be available on publication of the proposed rule to implement an FMP amendment that would reclassify sculpins as an ecosystem component species in the FMP. If the FMP amendment and its implementing regulations are approved by the Secretary of Commerce, the action is anticipated to be effective in 2021. Until effective, NMFS will continue to publish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for sculpins in the BSAI groundfish harvest specifications. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Final Rulemaking To Prohibit Directed Fishing for American Fisheries Act (AFA) Program Sideboard Limits On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that modified regulations for the AFA Program participants subject to limits on the catch of specific species (sideboard limits) in the BSAI. Sideboard limits are intended to prevent participants who benefit from receiving exclusive harvesting privileges in a particular fishery from shifting effort to other fisheries. Specifically, the final rule established regulations to prohibit directed fishing for most groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits under the AFA Program, rather than prohibiting directed fishing through the annual BSAI harvest specifications. Since the final rule is now effective, NMFS is no longer publishing in the annual BSAI harvest specifications the AFA Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish species or species groups subject to the final rule. Those groundfish species subject to the final rule associated with sideboard limits are now prohibited from directed fishing in regulation (§ 679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Tables 54, 55, and 56 to 50 CFR part 679). NMFS will continue to publish in the annual BSAI harvest specifications the AFA Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish species or species groups that were not subject to the final rule (see Tables 13– 15 of this action). State of Alaska Guideline Harvest Levels For 2020 and 2021, the Board of Fisheries (BOF) for the State of Alaska (State) established the guideline harvest level (GHL) for vessels using pot gear in State waters in the Bering Sea subarea (BS) equal to 9 percent of the Pacific cod VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 ABC in the BS. The State’s pot gear BS GHL will increase one percent annually up to 15 percent of the BS ABC, if 90 percent of the GHL is harvested by November 15 of the preceding year. If 90 percent of the 2020 BS GHL is not harvested by November 15, 2020, then the 2021 BS GHL will remain at the same percent as the 2020 BS GHL. If 90 percent of the 2020 BS GHL is harvested by November 15, 2020, then the 2021 BS GHL will increase by one percent and the 2020 BS TAC will be set to account for the increased BS GHL. Also, for 2020 and 2021, the BOF established an additional GHL for vessels using jig gear in State waters in the BS equal to 45 mt of Pacific cod in the BS. The Council and its BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team), Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Advisory Panel (AP) recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the BS not exceed the ABC recommendations for Pacific cod in the BS. Accordingly, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, that the 2020 and 2021 Pacific cod TACs in the BS account for the State’s GHLs for Pacific cod caught in State waters in the BS. For 2020 and 2021, the BOF for the State established the GHL in State waters in the Aleutian Islands subarea (AI). The 2019 AI GHL was set at 31 percent of the 2019 AI ABC (84 FR 9000; March 13, 2019). The AI GHL will increase annually by 4 percent of the AI ABC, if 90 percent of the GHL is harvested by November 15 of the preceding year, but may not exceed 39 percent of the AI ABC or 15 million pounds (6,804 mt). In 2019, 90 percent of the GHL has been harvested by November 15, 2019, which triggers a 4 percent increase in the GHL; however, 35 percent of the proposed AI ABC is 7,210 mt, which exceeds the AI GHL limit of 6,804 mt. The Council and its Plan Team, SSC, and AP recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the AI not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations for Pacific cod in the AI. Accordingly, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, that the 2020 and 2021 Pacific cod TACs in the AI account for the State’s GHL of 6,804 mt for Pacific cod caught in State waters in the AI. Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications In October 2019, the Council’s SSC, its AP, and the Council reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. This information was compiled by the Plan PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Team and presented in the final 2018 SAFE report for the BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2018 (see ADDRESSES). The final 2019 SAFE report will be available from the same source. The proposed 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications are based on the final 2020 harvest specifications published in March 2019 (84 FR 9000; March 13, 2019), which were set after consideration of the most recent 2018 SAFE report, and are based on the initial survey data that were presented at the September 2019 Plan Team meeting. The proposed 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications in this action are subject to change in the final harvest specifications to be published by NMFS following the Council’s December 2019 meeting. In November 2019, the Plan Team will update the 2018 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2019, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team will compile this information and present the draft 2019 SAFE report at the December 2019 Council meeting. At that meeting, the SSC and the Council will review the 2019 SAFE report, and the Council will approve the 2019 SAFE report. The Council will consider information contained in the 2019 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2019 Plan Team meeting and December 2019 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written comments in making its recommendations for the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. Sablefish OFL For sablefish, at its October 2019 meeting, the SSC discussed the Plan Team’s recommendation to review the apportionment and specification of the sablefish OFL and its status quo apportionments in the BS, AI, and the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). The sablefish stock assessment currently uses an Alaska-wide model that establishes an Alaska-wide OFL, which is then apportioned to three area specific OFLs: BS, AI, and GOA. The Alaska-wide OFL is currently the measurable and objective criteria used to monitor and assess the status of the sablefish stock to prevent overfishing and to determine whether overfishing has occurred or the stock is overfished. The 2018 sablefish SAFE highlights that, given extremely high movement rates throughout their range, sablefish are likely one Alaskawide stock with no sub-populations in Alaska. At its September 2019 meeting, the Plan Team discussed that there did not appear to be a conservation concern that E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules warranted subarea OFLs, particularly since the six sub-area ABC apportionments are designed to spread harvest across areas and prevent any localized depletion. At its October 2019 meeting, the SSC had extensive discussion about the appropriate process for considering a combined OFL, and the SSC determined that combining the OFL is a viable option to consider for the OFL specification for 2020 and 2021. The Plan Team and SSC recommended that the sablefish stock assessment include three options for apportioning and specifying sablefish OFLs for review at the November 2019 Plan Team and December 2019 SSC meetings: (1) No change in the apportionment and specification of a BS OFL, an AI OFL, and a GOA OFL (status quo); (2) apportioning and specifying a BSAI OFL, and a separate GOA OFL; and (3) specifying an Alaska-wide OFL. The SSC will review these three options in the sablefish stock assessment to consider a possible change to the current sablefish OFL apportionment during the December Council meeting. Based on the recommendations of the SSC, NMFS may implement a change to the specification of sablefish OFL in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Potential Changes Between Proposed and Final Specifications In previous years, the most significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of fish) to the OFLs and ABCs from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys. These surveys provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and inform changes to the models or the models’ results used for producing stock assessments. Any changes to models used in stock assessments will be recommended by the Plan Team in November 2019 and then included in the final 2019 SAFE report. Model changes can result in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs. The final 2019 SAFE report will include the most recent information, such as catch data. The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not expected to vary greatly from these proposed harvest specification amounts. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 If the 2019 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the 2019 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications. In addition to changes driven by biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs exceeding 2 million mt. Since the regulations require TACs to be set to an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan Team and the SSC, if setting TACs equal to ABCs would cause total TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt. Generally, total ABCs greatly exceed 2 million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. For both 2020 and 2021, NMFS anticipates that the sum of the final ABCs will exceed 2 million mt. NMFS expects that the final total TAC for the BSAI for both 2020 and 2021 will equal 2 million mt each year. The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 represents the highest level of information quality available, while Tier 6 represents the lowest. In October 2019, the SSC adopted the proposed 2020 and 2021 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. These amounts are, for the most part, unchanged from the final 2020 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on March 13, 2019 (84 FR 9000), with the exception of the removal 824 metric tons (mt) from the AI Pacific cod TAC to account for an increase in the AI GHL fishery, and a corresponding increase of 824 mt to the BS pollock TAC, so that PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 66131 the sum of the proposed TACs is within the OY of up to 2 million mt. For 2020 and 2021, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified OFLs. The sum of the proposed 2020 and 2021 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 2,967,269 mt. The sum of the proposed TACs is 2,000,000 mt. Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed TACs that are equal to the proposed ABCs for 2020 and 2021 AI sablefish, BS sablefish, Central AI Atka mackerel, BS and Eastern AI Atka mackerel, BS Pacific ocean perch, Central AI Pacific ocean perch, Eastern AI Pacific ocean perch, and AI ‘‘other rockfish.’’ The Council recommended proposed TACs less than the respective proposed ABCs for all other species. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY. The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change pending the completion of the final 2019 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications during its December 2019 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2018 SAFE report, and have been adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, the Council could recommend adjusting the final TACs if ‘‘warranted on the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to fall within the OY range.’’ Table 1 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts among fisheries and seasons is discussed below. E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 66132 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] Proposed 2020 and 2021 Species Area Pollock 4 ................................................... Pacific cod 5 ............................................. Sablefish .................................................. Yellowfin sole ........................................... Greenland turbot ...................................... Arrowtooth flounder ................................. Kamchatka flounder ................................. Rock sole 6 ............................................... Flathead sole 7 ......................................... Alaska plaice ........................................... Other flatfish 8 .......................................... Pacific Ocean perch ................................ Northern rockfish ..................................... Blackspotted/Rougheye rockfish 9 ........... Shortraker rockfish ................................... Other rockfish 10 ....................................... Atka mackerel .......................................... Skates ...................................................... Sculpins ................................................... Sharks ...................................................... Octopuses ................................................ BS .................. AI ................... Bogoslof ......... BS .................. AI ................... BS .................. AI ................... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BS .................. AI ................... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BS .................. EAI ................. CAI ................. WAI ................ BSAI ............... BSAI ............... EBS/EAI ......... CAI/WAI ......... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BS .................. AI ................... BSAI ............... EAI/BS ........... CAI ................. WAI ................ BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Total .................................................. ITAC 2 CDQ 3 4 OFL ABC TAC 3,082,000 66,981 183,080 183,000 27,400 4,441 5,997 284,000 10,476 n/a n/a 83,814 11,260 147,500 83,190 37,860 21,824 59,396 n/a n/a n/a n/a 15,180 868 n/a n/a 722 1,793 n/a n/a 73,400 n/a n/a n/a 48,944 53,201 689 4,769 1,792,000 55,125 137,310 137,000 20,600 1,994 2,688 257,800 8,908 7,777 1,131 71,411 9,509 143,700 68,448 31,900 16,368 49,211 14,274 11,146 8,205 15,586 12,396 715 448 267 541 1,344 956 388 63,400 22,190 13,310 27,900 40,813 39,995 517 3,576 1,420,824 19,000 75 124,625 13,390 1,994 2,688 166,425 5,294 5,125 169 8,000 5,000 57,100 14,500 18,000 6,500 43,625 14,274 11,146 8,205 10,000 6,500 279 75 204 358 663 275 388 53,635 22,190 13,310 18,135 26,000 5,000 125 400 1,278,742 17,100 75 111,290 11,957 847 571 148,618 4,500 4,356 144 6,800 4,250 50,990 12,949 15,300 5,525 38,343 12,133 9,953 7,327 8,930 5,525 237 64 173 304 564 234 330 47,896 19,816 11,886 16,195 22,100 4,250 106 340 142,082 1,900 ........................ 13,335 1,433 75 50 17,807 n/a 548 856 ........................ 6,110 1,552 ........................ ........................ n/a ........................ 1,193 878 1,070 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 5,739 2,374 1,424 1,940 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 4,491,785 2,967,269 2,000,000 1,789,605 194,628 1 These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these harvest specifications, the Bering Sea subarea includes the Bogoslof District. 2 Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a non-specified reserve. The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80 species, ITAC is the non-CDQ allocation of TAC (see footnote 3 and 4). 3 For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 10.7 percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea Greenland turbot and BSAI arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). The 2020 hook-and-line or pot gear portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. Aleutian Islands Greenland turbot, ‘‘other flatfish,’’ Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, ‘‘other rockfish,’’ skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses are not allocated to the CDQ Program. 4 Under § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual BS pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (3.9 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: inshore—50 percent; catcher/processor—40 percent; and motherships–10 percent. Under § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. 5 The BS Pacific cod TAC is set to account for the 9 percent, plus 45 mt, of the BS ABC for the State of Alaska’s (State) guideline harvest level in State waters of the BS. The AI Pacific cod TAC is set to account for 35 percent of the AI ABC for the State guideline harvest level in State waters of the AI, unless the State guideline harvest level would exceed 15 million pounds (6,804 mt), in which case the TAC is set to account for the maximum authorized State guideline harvest level. 6 ‘‘Rock sole’’ includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole). 7 ‘‘Flathead sole’’ includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder). 8 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 9 ‘‘Blackspotted/Rougheye rockfish’’ includes Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted) and Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye). 10 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for dark rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, blackspotted/rougheye rockfish, and shortraker rockfish. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules 66133 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2 (BSAI = Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area, BS = Bering Sea subarea, AI = Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI = Eastern Aleutian district, CAI = Central Aleutian district, WAI = Western Aleutian district). Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and AI Pacific Ocean Perch Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the TAC for each target species category (except for pollock, hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species) in a non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that NMFS allocate 20 percent of the hookand-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve for each subarea. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires that NMFS allocate 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of BS Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder TACs to the respective CDQ reserves. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires that NMFS allocate 10.7 percent of the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the respective CDQ reserves. Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) require allocation of 10 percent of the BS pollock TAC to the pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance (DFA). Sections 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and 679.31(a) require 10 percent of the AI pollock TAC be allocated to the pollock CDQ DFA. The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(ii) because the Bogoslof District is closed to directed fishing for pollock by regulation (§ 679.22(a)(7)(B)). With the exception of the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ reserves by gear. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 3.9 percent or 49,871 mt of the BS pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS’s examination of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2000 through 2019. During this 20-year period, the pollock incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.2 percent in 2006 to a high of 4.6 percent in 2014, with a 20-year average of 3 percent. Pursuant to §§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 14 percent or 2,400 mt of the AI pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS’s examination of the pollock VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2019. During this 17-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2014, with a 17-year average of 9 percent. Pursuant to §§ 679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 3,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 4,000 mt of yellowfin sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 60 mt of Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 20 mt of Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka mackerel, and 800 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and BS Atka mackerel, after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserve. These ICAs are based on NMFS’s examination of the average incidental catch in other target fisheries from 2003 through 2019. The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be apportioned to a target species that contributed to the non-specified reserve during the year, provided that such apportionments are consistent with § 679.20(a)(3) and do not result in overfishing (see § 679.20(b)(1)(i)). Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA) Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that BS pollock TAC be apportioned as a DFA, after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ Program and 3.9 percent for the ICA, as follows: 50 percent to the inshore sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor (C/P) sector, and 10 percent to the mothership sector. In the BS, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20 to June 10), and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (§§ 679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)(1) and 679.23(e)(2)). The AI directed pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock TAC remaining in the AI after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent), and 2,400 mt for the ICA (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)). In the AI, the total A season apportionment of the pollock TAC (including the AI directed fishery allocation, the CDQ DFA, and the ICA) may equal up to 40 percent of the ABC for AI pollock, and the remainder of the pollock TAC is allocated to the B season PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(3)). Table 2 lists these proposed 2020 and 2021 amounts. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 15 percent of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent of the AI pollock ABC. Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) includes several specific requirements regarding BS pollock allocations. First, it requires that 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the C/P sector be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels (CV) with C/P sector endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that allows the distribution of harvest among AFA C/Ps and AFA CVs in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA C/Ps not listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the C/P sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 13, 14, and 15 list the AFA C/P and CV harvesting sideboard limits. The BS inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations are based on the submission of AFA inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2020 have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS therefore cannot calculate 2020 allocations, NMFS has not included inshore cooperative tables in these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post 2020 AFA inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheriesmanagement-reports prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2020, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at § 679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the annual pollock DFA before 12:00 noon, April 1, as provided in § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 66134 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector’s allocated percentage of the DFA. Table 2 lists these proposed 2020 and 2021 amounts by sector. TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] 2020 and 2021 allocations Area and sector Bering Sea subarea TAC ................................................................................ CDQ DFA ......................................................................................................... ICA 1 ................................................................................................................. Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ) ................................................................... AFA Inshore ..................................................................................................... AFA Catcher/Processors 3 ............................................................................... Catch by C/Ps .......................................................................................... Catch by C/Vs 3 ........................................................................................ Unlisted C/P Limit 4 ................................................................................... AFA Motherships ............................................................................................. Excessive Harvesting Limit 5 ............................................................................ Excessive Processing Limit 6 ........................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea ABC ......................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea TAC ......................................................................... CDQ DFA ......................................................................................................... ICA ................................................................................................................... Aleut Corporation ............................................................................................. Area harvest limit 7 ........................................................................................... Area 541 harvest limit 7 ............................................................................ Area 542 harvest limit 7 ............................................................................ Area 543 harvest limit 7 ............................................................................ Bogoslof District ICA 8 ...................................................................................... 1,420,824 142,082 49,871 1,228,871 614,435 491,548 449,767 41,782 2,458 122,887 215,052 368,661 55,125 19,000 1,900 2,400 14,700 n/a 16,538 8,269 2,756 75 A season 1 A season DFA n/a 63,937 n/a 552,992 276,496 221,197 202,395 18,802 1,106 55,299 n/a n/a n/a n/a 760 1,200 10,361 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a B season 1 SCA harvest limit 2 n/a 39,783 n/a 344,084 172,042 137,634 n/a n/a n/a 34,408 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a B season DFA n/a 78,145 n/a 675,879 337,939 270,352 247,372 22,980 1,352 67,588 n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,140 1,200 4,339 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (3.9 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: Inshore sector—50 percent, catcher/processor sector (C/Ps)—40 percent, and mothership sector–10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20–June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10–November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) through (iii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second for the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated up to 40 percent of the AI pollock ABC. 2 In the Bering Sea subarea, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C), no more than 28 percent of each sector’s annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1. 3 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed C/Ps shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels with C/P endorsement delivering to listed C/Ps, unless there is a C/P sector cooperative for the year. 4 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted C/Ps are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the C/Ps sector’s allocation of pollock. 5 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 6 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 7 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. 8 Pursuant to § 679.22(a)(7)(B), the Bogoslof District is closed to directed fishing for pollock. The amounts specified are for incidental catch only and are not apportioned by season or sector. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and non-trawl gear sectors, and the jig gear allocation (Table 3). The percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel TAC may be allocated to vessels using jig gear. The percent of this allocation is recommended annually by the Council VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 based on several criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, a 0.5 percent allocation of the Atka mackerel TAC in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2020 and 2021. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies Atka mackerel seasons to trawl CDQ Atka mackerel PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 fishing. The ICA and jig gear allocations are not apportioned by season. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limits Atka mackerel catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located west of 178° W longitude to no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543, and equally divides the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires that the annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be prohibited from being E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 66135 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located in Areas 541, 542, and 543. Table 3 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 Atka mackerel season allowances, area allowances, and the sector allocations. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2020 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2020. The 2021 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2020. NMFS will post 2021 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2021, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCES, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE (ICA), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] 2020 and 2021 allocation by area Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 TAC ........................................................ CDQ reserve .......................................... n/a ......................................................... Total ...................................................... A ............................................................ Critical habitat 5 ..................................... B ............................................................ Critical habitat 5 ..................................... n/a ......................................................... Total ...................................................... Total ...................................................... Total ...................................................... A ............................................................ Critical habitat 5 ..................................... B ............................................................ Critical habitat 5 ..................................... Total ...................................................... A ............................................................ Critical habitat 5 ..................................... B ............................................................ Critical habitat 5 ..................................... non-CDQ TAC ........................................ ICA ......................................................... Jig 6 ........................................................ BSAI trawl limited access ...................... Amendment 80 ....................................... Eastern Aleutian District/Bering Sea 22,190 2,374 1,187 n/a 1,187 n/a 19,816 800 95 1,892 946 n/a 946 n/a 17,029 8,514 n/a 8,514 n/a Central Aleutian District 5 Western Aleutian District 5 13,310 1,424 712 427 712 427 11,886 75 .............................. 1,181 591 354 591 354 10,630 5,315 3,189 5,315 3,189 18,135 1,940 970 582 970 582 16,195 20 .............................. .............................. .............................. .............................. .............................. .............................. 16,175 8,087 4,852 8,087 4,852 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS 1 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs, and the jig gear allocation, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and § 679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). 2 Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery. 3 The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. 4 Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31. 5 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to be caught inside of Steller sea lion critical habitat; § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3); and § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC in Area 543. 6 Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserve and ICA. The proposed amount of this allocation for 2020 and 2021 is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season. Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC The Council separated BS and AI subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for Pacific cod in 2014 (79 FR 12108; March 4, 2014). Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC to the CDQ Program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector allocations. If the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be reached in either the BS or the AI subareas, NMFS will prohibit directed fishing for nonCDQ Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in § 679.20(d)(1)(iii). VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:11 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 Section 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocates to the non-CDQ sectors the combined BSAI Pacific cod TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ Program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent to hook-and-line or pot CVs less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line CVs greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line C/Ps, 8.4 percent to pot CVs greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot C/Ps, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl C/Ps, 13.4 percent to the Amendment 80 sector, and 22.1 percent to trawl CVs. The BSAI ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 aggregate portion of BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. For 2020 and 2021, the Regional Administrator proposes a BSAI ICA of 400 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries. The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and § 679.91. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2020 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2020. The 2021 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 66136 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2020. NMFS will post 2021 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2021, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The sector allocations of Pacific cod are apportioned into seasonal allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see §§ 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B), 679.20 (a)(7)(iv)(A), and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with §§ 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a Pacific cod seasonal allowance for any sector, except the jig abundance in Area 543 changes based on the stock assessment in the final 2019 SAFE report. On March 21, 2019, the final rule adopting Amendment 113 to the FMP (81 FR 84434; November 23, 2016) was vacated by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Groundfish Forum v. Ross, No. 16–2495 (D.D.C. March 21, 2019)), and the corresponding regulations implementing Amendment 113 are no longer in effect. Therefore, this proposed rule is not specifying amounts for the AI Pacific Cod Catcher Vessel Harvest Set-Aside Program (see § 679.20(a)(7)(viii)). Table 4 lists the CDQ and non-CDQ seasonal allowances by gear based on the proposed 2020 and 2021 Pacific cod TACs; the sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at §§ 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and (a)(7)(iv)(A); and the seasons set forth at § 679.23(e)(5). sector, will become available at the beginning of that sector’s next seasonal allowance. Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires that the Regional Administrator establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod abundance in Area 543. Based on the 2018 stock assessment, the Regional Administrator determined for 2020 and 2021 that the estimated amount of Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 is 15.7 percent of total AI abundance. NMFS will first subtract the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod ABC. Then NMFS will determine the harvest limit in Area 543 by multiplying the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543 (15.7 percent) by the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod. Based on these calculations, which rely on the 2018 stock assessment, the proposed Area 543 harvest limit is 2,102 mt. However, the final Area 543 harvest limit could change if the Pacific cod TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 SECTOR ALLOCATIONS AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI 1 PACIFIC COD TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Sector 2020 and 2021 share of gear sector total Percent 2020 and 2021 seasonal apportionment 2020 and 2021 share of sector total Total Bering Sea TAC ............................................. Bering Sea CDQ ..................................................... Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC ..................................... Total Aleutian Islands TAC ..................................... Aleutian Islands CDQ ............................................. Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC .............................. Western Aleutians Islands Limit ............................. Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC 1 .................................... Total hook-and-line/pot gear ................................... Hook-and-line/pot ICA 2 .......................................... Hook-and-line/pot sub-total ..................................... Hook-and-line catcher/processors .......................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 100 61 n/a n/a 49 124,625 13,335 111,290 13,390 1,433 11,957 2,102 123,247 74,934 n/a 74,534 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 400 n/a 59,701 Hook-and-line catcher vessels ≥60 ft LOA ............. 0 n/a 245 Pot catcher/processors ........................................... 2 n/a 1,839 Pot catcher vessels ≥60 ft LOA .............................. 8 n/a 10,298 Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. Trawl catcher vessels ............................................. 2 n/a 2,452 22 27,238 n/a AFA trawl catcher/processors ................................. 2 2,835 n/a Amendment 80 ........................................................ 13 16,515 n/a Jig ............................................................................ 1 1,725 n/a Season Amount n/a ...................................... See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) ...... n/a ...................................... n/a ...................................... See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) ..... n/a ...................................... n/a ...................................... n/a ...................................... n/a ...................................... n/a ...................................... n/a ...................................... Jan-1–Jun 10 ..................... Jun 10–Dec 31 ................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ..................... Jun 10–Dec 31 ................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ..................... Sept 1–Dec 31 ................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ..................... Sept-1–Dec 31 ................... n/a ...................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 30,448 29,254 125 120 938 901 5,252 5,046 n/a Jan 20–Apr 1 ...................... Apr 1–Jun 10 ...................... Jun 10–Nov 1 ..................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ...................... Apr 1–Jun 10 ...................... Jun 10–Nov 1 ..................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ...................... Apr 1–Jun 10 ...................... Jun 10–Nov 1 ..................... Jan 1–Apr 30 ...................... Apr 30–Aug 31 ................... Aug 31–Dec 31 .................. 20,156 2,996 4,086 2,126 709 .................... 12,386 4,129 .................... 1,035 345 345 1 The sector allocations and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, after subtraction of the reserve for the CDQ Program. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing will be prohibited for Pacific cod in that subarea, even if a BSAI allowance remains. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 66137 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules 2 The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 400 mt for 2020 and 2021 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries. Sablefish Gear Allocation Section 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of sablefish TAC for the BS and AI between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the sablefish TAC for the BS are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TAC for the AI are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that NMFS apportion 20 percent of the hook- and-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish TAC to the CDQ reserve for each subarea. Also, § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish TAC from the non-specified reserve, established under § 679.20(b)(1)(i), be apportioned to the CDQ reserve. The Council recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-andline or pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries are limited to the 2020 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries reduce the potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries remain closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts. TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 GEAR SHARES AND CDQ RESERVE OF BSAI SABLEFISH TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] Subarea and gear Percent of TAC Bering Sea Trawl ..................... Hook-and-line gear/pot 2 ........... Total ............... Aleutian Islands Trawl ..................... Hook-and-line gear/pot 2 ........... Total ............... 2020 Share of TAC 2020 ITAC 1 2020 CDQ reserve 2021 Share of TAC 2021 ITAC 2021 CDQ reserve 50 997 847 75 997 847 75 50 100 997 1,994 n/a 847 199 274 n/a 997 n/a 847 n/a 75 25 672 571 50 672 571 50 75 100 2,016 2,688 n/a 571 403 454 n/a 672 n/a 571 n/a 50 1 Except for the sablefish hook-and-line and pot gear allocation, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the non-specified reserve (§ 679.20(b)(1)(i)). The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. 2 For the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B)). The Council recommended that specifications for the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish IFQ fisheries be limited to one year. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Allocation of the AI Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Section 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs between the Amendment 80 sector and the BSAI trawl limited access sector, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserves and amounts for ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector is established in VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:33 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 Tables 33 and 34 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2020 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2020. The 2021 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2020. NMFS will post 2021 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2021, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each cooperatives’ quota share units and the total Amendment 80 quota share units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective species. Table 6 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs. E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 66138 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] 2020 and 2021 allocations Pacific ocean perch Sector Eastern Aleutian district TAC .......................................................... CDQ ......................................................... ICA ........................................................... BSAI trawl limited access ........................ Amendment 80 ......................................... Central Aleutian district 11,146 1,193 100 985 8,868 Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 Western Aleutian district 8,205 878 60 727 6,540 10,000 1,070 10 178 8,742 cooperatives from achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at or below the ABC surplus for each species, thus maintaining the TAC below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves will be allocated as CDQ ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. Section 679.31(b)(4) establishes the annual Flathead sole Rock sole Yellowfin sole BSAI BSAI BSAI 14,500 1,552 3,000 ........................ 9,949 57,100 6,110 6,000 ........................ 44,990 166,425 17,807 4,000 22,789 121,828 allocations of CDQ ABC reserves among the CDQ groups. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves are the ABC reserves minus the CDQ ABC reserves and are allocated to each Amendment 80 cooperative pursuant to § 679.91(i)(2). Table 7 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 ABC surplus and ABC reserves for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 ABC SURPLUS, ABC RESERVES, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) ABC RESERVES, AND AMENDMENT 80 ABC RESERVES IN THE BSAI FOR FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector Flathead sole ABC .............................................................................................................................................. TAC .............................................................................................................................................. ABC surplus ................................................................................................................................. ABC reserve ................................................................................................................................ CDQ ABC reserve ....................................................................................................................... Amendment 80 ABC reserve ....................................................................................................... lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring Section 679.21(b), (e), (f), and (g) set forth the BSAI PSC limits. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1), the annual BSAI halibut PSC limits total 3,515 mt. Section 679.21(b)(1) allocates 315 mt of the halibut PSC limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program, 1,745 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector, 745 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, and 710 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the BSAI non-trawl sector. Section 679.21(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B) authorize apportionment of the BSAI non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC allowances among six fishery categories, and § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B), (e)(3)(i)(B), and (e)(3)(iv) require apportionment of the BSAI trawl limited VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:33 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 access sector’s halibut and crab PSC limits into PSC allowances among seven fishery categories. Table 10 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the BSAI trawl limited access sector fisheries, and Table 11 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the non-trawl fisheries. Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, that certain specified nontrawl fisheries be exempt from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consultation with the Council, NMFS proposes to exempt the pot gear fishery, the jig gear fishery, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 68,448 14,500 53,948 53,948 5,772 48,176 Rock sole 143,700 57,100 86,600 86,600 9,266 77,334 Yellowfin sole 257,800 166,425 91,375 91,375 9,777 81,598 of the fishery and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the IFQ Program requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the vessel is operating (§ 679.7(f)(11)). As of November 2019, total groundfish catch for the pot gear fishery in the BSAI was 45,567 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch mortality of 3.7 mt. The 2019 jig gear fishery harvested about 190 mt of groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut bycatch in E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules the jig gear fishery. As mentioned above, NMFS estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and released. Under § 679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of either 33,318, 45,000, 47,591, or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits among the AFA sectors, depending on past bycatch performance, on whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements (IPAs) are formed, and on whether NMFS determines it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year. NMFS will determine that it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year when abundance of Chinook salmon in western Alaska is less than or equal to 250,000 Chinook salmon. The State provides to NMFS an estimate of Chinook salmon abundance using the 3System Index for western Alaska, based on the Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and Upper Yukon aggregate stock grouping. If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and if it is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and if it is not a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 45,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and if in a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 33,318 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D). As of October 1, 2019, NMFS has determined that 2019 was not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, based on the State’s estimate that Chinook salmon abundance in western Alaska is greater than 250,000 Chinook salmon. Therefore, in 2020, the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 60,000 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). The AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are also seasonally apportioned with 70 percent VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 of the allocation for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season pollock fishery (§§ 679.21(f)(3)(i) and 679.23(e)(2)). In 2020, the Chinook salmon bycatch performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) is 47,591 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). NMFS publishes the approved IPAs, allocations, and reports at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska. Section 679.21(g)(2)(i) specifies 700 fish as the 2020 and 2021 Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI pollock fishery. Section 679.21(g)(2)(ii) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and allocates the remaining 647 Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries. Section 679.21(f)(14)(i) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2020 and 2021 nonChinook salmon PSC limit for vessels using trawl gear from August 15 through October 14 in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area (CVOA). Section 679.21(f)(14)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494 non-Chinook salmon, in the CVOA as the PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA to the non-CDQ fisheries. PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as of October 2019 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, basing the herring 2020 and 2021 PSC limits and apportionments on the 2018 survey data. The Council will reconsider these amounts in December 2019. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl gear PSC limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program. Based on 2019 survey data, the red king crab mature female abundance is estimated at 10.613 million red king crabs, and the effective spawning biomass is estimated at 28.009 million lbs (12,705 mt). Based on the criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(i), the proposed 2020 and 2021 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 97,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female abundance estimate of more than 8.4 million red king crab and the effective spawning biomass estimate of more than 14.5 million lbs (6,577 mt) but less than 55 million lbs (24,948 mt). Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which NMFS must specify an annual red king crab PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 66139 bycatch limit for the Red King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS) if the State has established a GHL fishery for red king crab in the Bristol Bay area in the previous year. The regulations limit the bycatch in the RKCSS to up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance, based on the need to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. NMFS proposes the Council’s recommendation that the red king crab bycatch limit for 2020 and 2021 be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance within the RKCSS (Table 9). Based on 2019 survey data, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 2,574 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2020 and 2021 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 980,000 animals in Zone 1, and 2,970,000 animals in Zone 2. The limit in Zone 1 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi (estimated at 2,574 million animals), which is greater than 400 million animals. The limit in Zone 2 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi (estimated at 2,574 million animals), which is greater than 400 million animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for trawl gear for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in the C. opilio bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs. Based on the 2019 survey estimate of 7.706 billion animals, the calculated C. opilio crab PSC limit is 8,580,898 animals, which is above the minimum PSC limit of 4.5 million and below the maximum PSC limit of 13 million animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best estimate of 2020 and 2021 herring biomass is 254,709 mt. This amount was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on biomass for spawning aggregations. Therefore, the herring PSC limit proposed for 2020 and 2021 is 2,547 mt for all trawl gear as listed in Tables 8 and 9. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires that PSQ reserves be subtracted from the total trawl PSC limits. The 2020 crab and halibut PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are listed in Table 35 to 50 CFR part 679. The resulting proposed allocations of PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access sector are listed in E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 66140 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules Table 8. Pursuant to §§ 679.21(b)(1)(i), 679.21(e)(3)(vi), and 679.91(d) through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 sector are then further allocated to Amendment 80 cooperatives as cooperative quota. Crab and halibut PSC cooperative quota assigned to Amendment 80 cooperatives is not allocated to specific fishery categories. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2020 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no PSC limit allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2020. The 2021 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2020. NMFS will post 2021 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2021, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Section 679.21(b)(2) and (e)(5) authorize NMFS, after consulting with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of halibut and crab PSC amounts for the BSAI non-trawl, BSAI trawl limited access, and Amendment 80 limited access sectors to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors considered are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to prohibited species distribution, (3) prohibited species bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species biomass and expected catches of target groundfish species, (4) expected variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal prohibited species apportionments on segments of the target groundfish industry. Based on this criteria, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, the seasonal PSC apportionments in Tables 10 and 11 to maximize harvest among gear types, fisheries, and seasons, while minimizing bycatch of PSC. TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 APPORTIONMENT OF PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES TO NON-TRAWL GEAR, THE CDQ PROGRAM, AMENDMENT 80, AND THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTORS PSC species and area 1 Total PSC Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI .............................................. Herring (mt) BSAI ............................................................ Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 ...................................... C. opilio (animals) COBLZ ............................................... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1 ....................................... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2 ....................................... 3,515 2,547 97,000 8,580,898 980,000 2,970,000 Non-trawl PSC CDQ PSQ reserve 2 710 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a Trawl PSC remaining after CDQ PSQ 315 n/a 10,379 918,156 104,860 317,790 Amendment 80 sector 3 n/a n/a 86,621 7,662,742 875,140 2,652,210 1,745 n/a 43,293 3,766,238 368,521 627,778 BSAI trawl limited access sector 745 n/a 26,489 2,462,805 411,228 1,241,500 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas and zones. PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit. 3 The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits for crab below the total PSC limit. These reductions are not apportioned to other gear types or sectors. 2 The TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 HERRING AND RED KING CRAB SAVINGS SUBAREA PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES FOR ALL TRAWL SECTORS Herring (mt) BSAI lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Fishery categories Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 Yellowfin sole ........................................................................................................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 1 .................................................................................................................... Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish ..................................................................... Rockfish ................................................................................................................................................................... Pacific cod ............................................................................................................................................................... Midwater trawl pollock ............................................................................................................................................. Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 2 3 .................................................................................................................. Red king crab savings subarea non-pelagic trawl gear 4 ........................................................................................ 111 54 7 7 13 2,313 42 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 24,250 Total trawl PSC ................................................................................................................................................ 2,547 97,000 1 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 2 Pollock other than midwater trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and ‘‘other species’’ fishery category. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses. 4 In October 2019, the Council recommended that the red king crab bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see § 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)). Note: Species allowances may not total precisely due to rounding. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 66141 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules TABLE 10—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTOR Prohibited species and area 1 BSAI trawl limited access sector fisheries C. bairdi (animals) Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 C. opilio (animals) COBLZ Zone 1 Zone 2 Yellowfin sole ....................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 2 ................................. Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/ sablefish ........................................................................... Rockfish April 15–December 31 .......................................... Pacific cod ............................................................................ Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 3 ................................. 150 ........................ 23,338 ........................ 2,321,656 ........................ 346,228 ........................ 1,185,500 ........................ ........................ 4 391 200 ........................ ........................ 2,954 197 ........................ 3,835 98,959 38,356 ........................ ........................ 60,000 5,000 ........................ 1,000 49,999 5,000 Total BSAI trawl limited access sector PSC ................ 745 26,489 2,462,805 411,228 1,241,500 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas and zones. flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses. Note: Species allowances may not total precisely due to rounding. 2 ‘‘Other TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR NON-TRAWL FISHERIES Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Non-trawl fisheries Catcher/ processor Seasons Pacific cod ................................................................. All non-trawl Non-Pacific cod non-trawl-Total ................................ Groundfish pot and jig ............................................... Sablefish hook-and-line ............................................. Annual Pacific cod ............................... January 1–June 10 .............................. June 10–August 15 .............................. August 15–December 31 ..................... May 1–December 31 ........................... n/a ........................................................ n/a ........................................................ 648 388 162 98 n/a n/a n/a 13 9 2 2 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 49 Exempt Exempt Total for all non-trawl PSC ................................ n/a ........................................................ n/a n/a 710 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Catcher vessel To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery’s halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental catch rates are based on observers’ estimates of halibut incidental catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific information available in conjunction with the annual BSAI stock assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 the annual BSAI groundfish SAFE report. In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the Council’s directive. An interagency halibut working group (International Pacific Halibut Commission, Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the Plan Team, SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology is included in the BSAI proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87863; December 6, 2016), and the comprehensive discussion of the working group’s statistical methodology is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR working group’s revised methodology is intended to improve estimation accuracy, transparency, and transferability in the methodology used for calculating DMRs. The working group will continue to consider improvements to the methodology used to calculate halibut mortality, including potential changes to the reference PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 period (the period of data used for calculating the DMRs). Future DMRs may change based on additional years of observer sampling, which could provide more recent and accurate data and which could improve the accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The methodology will continue to ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more accurately reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different sectors of their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors to respond with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, the DMR for that sector. In October 2019, the Council recommended adopting the halibut DMRs derived from the revised methodology for the proposed 2020 and 2021 DMRs. The proposed 2020 and 2021 DMRs use an updated 2-year reference period of 2017 and 2018. Comparing the proposed 2020 and 2021 DMRs to the final DMRs from the 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, the proposed DMR for C/Ps and E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 66142 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules motherships using non-pelagic trawl gear decreased to 75 percent from 78 percent, the proposed DMR for C/Vs using non-pelagic trawl gear decreased to 58 percent from 59 percent, the proposed DMR for C/Ps using hook-andline gear increased to 9 percent from 8 percent, the proposed DMR for CVs using hook-and-line gear increased to 9 percent from 4 percent, and the proposed DMR for C/Ps and CVs using pot gear increased to 27 percent from 19 percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 DMRs. TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 PACIFIC HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES (DMR) FOR THE BSAI Halibut discard mortality rate (percent) Gear Sector Pelagic trawl ................................................................................ Non-pelagic trawl ........................................................................ Non-pelagic trawl ........................................................................ Hook-and-line .............................................................................. Hook-and-line .............................................................................. Pot ............................................................................................... All ............................................................................................... Catcher/processor and motherships .......................................... Catcher vessel ........................................................................... Catcher/processor ...................................................................... Catcher vessel ........................................................................... All ............................................................................................... Listed AFA C/P Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA C/ Ps to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA fishery and from fishery cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are set out as sideboard limits on catch. On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA C/Ps from directed fishing for groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits (see § 679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 54 to 50 CFR part 679). Section 679.64(a)(1)(v) exempts AFA C/Ps from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the proposed 2020 and 2021 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to 50 CFR part 679 establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for halibut and crab caught by listed AFA C/Ps. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692; December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668; September 14, 2007). PSC species listed in Table 13 that are caught 100 75 58 9 9 27 by listed AFA C/Ps participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2020 and 2021 PSC sideboard limits for the listed AFA C/Ps. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA C/Ps once a proposed 2020 or 2021 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 13 is reached. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC by listed AFA C/Ps while fishing for pollock will accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/‘‘other species’’ fishery categories, according to §§ 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv). TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 BSAI AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT LISTED CATCHER/PROCESSOR PROHIBITED SPECIES SIDEBOARD LIMITS Ratio of PSC to total PSC PSC species and area 1 BSAI Halibut mortality ............................................................................................................ Red king crab Zone 1 ............................................................................................................ C. opilio (COBLZ) .................................................................................................................. C. bairdi Zone 1 ..................................................................................................................... C. bairdi Zone 2 ..................................................................................................................... 1 Refer Proposed 2020 and 2021 PSC available to trawl vessels after subtraction of PSQ 2 Proposed 2020 and 2021 C/P sideboard limit 2 n/a 86,621 7,662,742 875,140 2,652,210 286 606 1,172,400 122,520 132,611 n/a 0.007 0.153 0.140 0.050 to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS 2 Halibut AFA CV Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of AFA CVs to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the pollock directed fishery. On February 8, 2019, NMFS VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA C/Vs from directed fishing for a majority of the groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits (see § 679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 55 to 50 CFR part 679). The remainder of the sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA C/ Vs are proposed in Table 14. PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Section 679.64(b)(3) and (b)(4) establish formulas for setting AFA CV groundfish and halibut and crab PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692; December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668; September 14, 2007). Section 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA CVs from a E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the proposed 2020 and 2021 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Table 14 lists the proposed 66143 2020 and 2021 AFA CV sideboard limits. TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 BSAI PACIFIC COD SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSELS (CVS) [Amounts are in metric tons] Ratio of 1995–1997 AFA CV catch to 1995–1997 TAC Fishery by area/gear/season BSAI ....................................................................................................................................... Trawl gear CV: ....................................................................................................................... Jan 20–Apr 1 .................................................................................................................. Apr 1–Jun 10 .................................................................................................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ................................................................................................................. 2020 and 2021 initial TAC n/a n/a 0.8609 0.8609 0.8609 n/a n/a 20,156 2,996 4,086 2020 and 2021 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits n/a n/a 17,352 2,579 3,518 Note: Section 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA catcher vessels from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2020 and 2021 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 15 that are caught by AFA CVs participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the 2020 and 2021 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA CVs. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA CVs once a proposed 2020 and 2021 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 15 is reached. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC by AFA CVs while fishing for pollock in the BS will accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/ ‘‘other species’’ fishery categories under § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv). TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2020 AND 2021 AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE BSAI 1 PSC species and area 1 Target fishery category 2 Halibut .................................. Pacific cod trawl .................................................................. Pacific cod hook-and-line or pot ......................................... Yellowfin sole total .............................................................. Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 4 ................................ Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/ sablefish. Rockfish .............................................................................. Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 5 ................................ n/a ....................................................................................... n/a ....................................................................................... n/a ....................................................................................... n/a ....................................................................................... Red king crab Zone 1 .......... C. opilio COBLZ ................... C. bairdi Zone 1 ................... C. bairdi Zone 2 ................... Proposed 2020 and 2021 PSC limit after subtraction of PSQ reserves 3 Proposed 2020 and 2021 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit 3 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 887 2 101 228 .......................... n/a n/a 0.2990 0.1680 0.3300 0.1860 n/a n/a 86,621 7,662,742 875,140 2,652,210 2 5 25,900 1,287,341 288,796 493,311 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit ratio 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. fishery categories are defined at § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv). amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 4 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 5 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses. 2 Target 3 Halibut lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Classification NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment. This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. This VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 proposed rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866. NMFS prepared an EIS for the Alaska groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the ROD for the Final EIS. A SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS is being prepared for the final 2020 and 2021 PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 harvest specifications. Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and annual SIRs for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental, social, and economic consequences of the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on resources in the action area. Based on the analysis in the Final EIS, NMFS concluded that the preferred alternative (Alternative 2) provides the best balance E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS 66144 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules among relevant environmental, social, and economic considerations and allows for continued management of the groundfish fisheries based on the most recent, best scientific information. NMFS prepared an IRFA, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 603), analyzing the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluated the economic impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone off Alaska. As described in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology produces may vary from year to year, the methodology itself remains constant. A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the preamble above. A copy of the IRFA is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows. The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the BSAI. The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) is the existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC, but, as discussed below, NMFS also considered other alternatives. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the MagnusonStevens Act. The entities directly regulated by this action are those that harvest groundfish in the exclusive economic zone of the BSAI and in parallel fisheries within State waters. These include entities operating CVs and C/Ps within the action area and entities receiving direct allocations of groundfish. For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified 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 gross receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. In addition, under the RFA, the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of a cooperative must meet the ‘‘under $11 million’’ threshold to be considered a small entity. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 The IRFA shows that, in 2018, the estimated number of directly regulated small entities include approximately 182 CVs, 3 C/Ps, and six CDQ groups. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, Gulf of Alaska rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization Program cooperatives, which are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA because the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members exceed the $11 million threshold. Thus, the estimate of 182 CVs may be an overstatement of the number of small entities. Average gross revenues were $520,000 for small hook-and-line vessels, $1.2 million for small pot vessels, and $2.6 million for small trawl vessels. The average gross revenue for C/Ps are not reported, due to confidentiality considerations. The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the BSAI OY, in which case TACs would have been limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average fishing rates. Alternative 4 would have set TACs equal to the lower limit of the BSAI OY range. Alternative 5, the ‘‘no action’’ alternative, would have set TACs equal to zero. The TACs associated with Alternative 2, the preferred harvest strategy, are those recommended by the Council in October 2019. OFLs and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council’s BSAI Groundfish Plan Team in September 2019, and reviewed and modified by the Council’s SSC in October 2019. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were constrained by the upper bound of the BSAI OY of two million mt. As shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2020 and 2021 would be 2,967,269 mt, which is above the upper bound of the OY range. Under Alternative 1, the sum of TACs is equal to the sum of ABCs. In this instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative (Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and has small entity impacts that are equivalent to small entity impacts of the preferred alternative. However, NMFS cannot set TACs equal PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 to the sum of ABCs in the BSAI due to the constraining OY limit of two million mt, which Alternative 1 would exceed. Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or based on the most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action (as reflected in Alternative 2, the Council’s preferred harvest strategy) because it does not take account of the most recent biological information for this fishery, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock surveys for different species, as well as statistical modeling, to estimate stock sizes and permissible harvest levels. Actual harvest rates or harvest amounts are a component of these estimates, but in and of themselves harvest rates or harvest amounts may not accurately portray stock sizes and conditions. Harvest rates are listed for each species and species group for each year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES). Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all groundfish species and would reduce TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI to its lower end of 1.4 million mt. Overall, this would reduce 2020 TACs by about 30 percent, which would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species harvested by small entities. While reductions of this size would alter the supply, and, therefore, would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these associated price increases is uncertain. While production declines in the BSAI would undoubtedly be associated with price increases in the BSAI, these increases still would be constrained by production of substitutes, and are unlikely to completely offset revenue declines resulting from reductions in harvests of these species by small entities. Thus, this alternative would have a detrimental impact on small entities. Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a significant adverse impact on small entities and would be contrary to the requirement for achieving OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Under Alternative 5, all individual CVs and C/Ps, as well as CDQ groups, impacted by this rule would have gross revenues of $0. The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the current 2020 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2020 and 2021, except for the decreases of the Pacific cod AI TAC to account for the State’s AI Pacific cod GHL and a E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 232 / Tuesday, December 3, 2019 / Proposed Rules lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS corresponding increase in BS pollock TAC to ensure that the sum of the proposed TACs is within the OY of up to 2 million mt. As noted in the IRFA and this preamble, the Council may modify its recommendations for final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 2019, when it reviews the November 2019 SAFE report from its Plan Team, and the reports of the SSC and AP, at the 2019 December Council meeting. NMFS does not expect adverse impacts on small entities, because most of the TACs in these proposed 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2020 harvest specification VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 TACs in the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications (84 FR 9000; March 13, 2019), and because the sum of all TACs remains within the upper limit of OY for the BSAI of 2.0 million mt. Also, NMFS does not expect any changes that might be made by the Council in December 2019 to be large enough to have an impact on small entities. This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal rules. Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered or threatened species resulting from fishing activities conducted under these harvest PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 66145 specifications are discussed in the Final EIS and its accompanying annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105–277; Pub. L. 106– 31; Pub. L. 106–554; Pub. L. 108–199; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 109–241; Pub. L. 109– 479. Dated: November 26, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–26090 Filed 12–2–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 232 (Tuesday, December 3, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 66129-66145]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-26090]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 191126-0093]
RIN 0648-XH080


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2020 and 2021 Harvest Specifications for 
Groundfish

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; harvest specifications and request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the 
groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) 
management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits 
for groundfish during the 2020 and 2021 fishing years and to accomplish 
the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish 
of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). The 2020 
harvest specifications supersede those previously set in the final 2019 
and 2020 harvest specifications, and the 2021 harvest specifications 
will be superseded in early 2021 when the final 2021 and 2022 harvest 
specifications are published. The intended effect of this action is to 
conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI in accordance 
with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 2, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2019-0074, by 
either of the following methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0074, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Records Office. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 
99802-1668.
    Instructions: 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), 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).
    Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision 
(ROD) for the Final EIS, the annual Supplementary Information Reports 
(SIRs) to the Final EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action are available from https://www.regulations.gov. An updated 2020 SIR for the final 2020 and 2021 
harvest specifications will be available from the same source. The 
final 2018 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for 
the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2018, is available 
from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 
4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501-2252, phone 907-271-2809, or 
from the Council's website at https://www.npfmc.org/. The 2019 SAFE 
report for the BSAI will be available from the same source.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 
implement the FMP and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The 
Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it, under the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). 
General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 
600.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require that NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, specify annually the total allowable 
catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum of TACs for all 
groundfish species in the BSAI must be within the optimum yield (OY) 
range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see Sec.  
679.20(a)(1)(i)(A)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires that NMFS 
publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal Register and 
solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and apportionments 
thereof, prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances, prohibited species 
quota (PSQ) reserves established by Sec.  679.21, seasonal allowances 
of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC, American Fisheries Act 
allocations, Amendment 80 allocations, Community Development Quota 
(CDQ) reserve amounts established by Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii), and 
acceptable biological catch (ABC) surpluses and reserves for CDQ groups 
and Amendment 80 cooperatives for flathead sole, rock sole, and 
yellowfin sole. The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 
1 through 15 of this action satisfy these requirements.
    Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2020 and 2021 
harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within 
the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its 
December 2019 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 
2020 SIR to the Final EIS that assesses the need to prepare a 
Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information 
presented in the final 2019 SAFE reports prepared for the 2020 and 2021 
groundfish fisheries.

Other Actions Affecting or Potentially Affecting the 2020 and 2021 
Harvest Specifications

Reclassify Sculpins as an Ecosystem Component Species

    In October 2019, the Council recommended that sculpins be 
reclassified in the FMP as an ``ecosystem component'' species, which is 
a category of non-target species that are not in need of conservation 
and management. Currently, NMFS annually sets an overfishing level 
(OFL), ABC, and TAC for sculpins in the BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications. Under the Council's recommended action, OFL, ABC, and 
TAC specifications for sculpins would no longer be required. NMFS 
intends to develop rulemaking to implement the Council's recommendation 
for sculpins. Such a rulemaking would prohibit directed

[[Page 66130]]

fishing for sculpins, maintain recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements, and establish a sculpin maximum retainable amount when 
directed fishing for groundfish species at 20 percent to discourage 
retention, while allowing flexibility to prosecute groundfish 
fisheries. Further details (and public comment on the sculpin action) 
will be available on publication of the proposed rule to implement an 
FMP amendment that would reclassify sculpins as an ecosystem component 
species in the FMP. If the FMP amendment and its implementing 
regulations are approved by the Secretary of Commerce, the action is 
anticipated to be effective in 2021. Until effective, NMFS will 
continue to publish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for sculpins in the BSAI 
groundfish harvest specifications.

Final Rulemaking To Prohibit Directed Fishing for American Fisheries 
Act (AFA) Program Sideboard Limits

    On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that 
modified regulations for the AFA Program participants subject to limits 
on the catch of specific species (sideboard limits) in the BSAI. 
Sideboard limits are intended to prevent participants who benefit from 
receiving exclusive harvesting privileges in a particular fishery from 
shifting effort to other fisheries. Specifically, the final rule 
established regulations to prohibit directed fishing for most 
groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits under 
the AFA Program, rather than prohibiting directed fishing through the 
annual BSAI harvest specifications. Since the final rule is now 
effective, NMFS is no longer publishing in the annual BSAI harvest 
specifications the AFA Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish 
species or species groups subject to the final rule. Those groundfish 
species subject to the final rule associated with sideboard limits are 
now prohibited from directed fishing in regulation (Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Tables 54, 55, and 56 to 50 CFR part 679). NMFS 
will continue to publish in the annual BSAI harvest specifications the 
AFA Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish species or species 
groups that were not subject to the final rule (see Tables 13-15 of 
this action).

State of Alaska Guideline Harvest Levels

    For 2020 and 2021, the Board of Fisheries (BOF) for the State of 
Alaska (State) established the guideline harvest level (GHL) for 
vessels using pot gear in State waters in the Bering Sea subarea (BS) 
equal to 9 percent of the Pacific cod ABC in the BS. The State's pot 
gear BS GHL will increase one percent annually up to 15 percent of the 
BS ABC, if 90 percent of the GHL is harvested by November 15 of the 
preceding year. If 90 percent of the 2020 BS GHL is not harvested by 
November 15, 2020, then the 2021 BS GHL will remain at the same percent 
as the 2020 BS GHL. If 90 percent of the 2020 BS GHL is harvested by 
November 15, 2020, then the 2021 BS GHL will increase by one percent 
and the 2020 BS TAC will be set to account for the increased BS GHL. 
Also, for 2020 and 2021, the BOF established an additional GHL for 
vessels using jig gear in State waters in the BS equal to 45 mt of 
Pacific cod in the BS. The Council and its BSAI Groundfish Plan Team 
(Plan Team), Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Advisory 
Panel (AP) recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water 
Pacific cod removals from the BS not exceed the ABC recommendations for 
Pacific cod in the BS. Accordingly, the Council recommended, and NMFS 
proposes, that the 2020 and 2021 Pacific cod TACs in the BS account for 
the State's GHLs for Pacific cod caught in State waters in the BS.
    For 2020 and 2021, the BOF for the State established the GHL in 
State waters in the Aleutian Islands subarea (AI). The 2019 AI GHL was 
set at 31 percent of the 2019 AI ABC (84 FR 9000; March 13, 2019). The 
AI GHL will increase annually by 4 percent of the AI ABC, if 90 percent 
of the GHL is harvested by November 15 of the preceding year, but may 
not exceed 39 percent of the AI ABC or 15 million pounds (6,804 mt). In 
2019, 90 percent of the GHL has been harvested by November 15, 2019, 
which triggers a 4 percent increase in the GHL; however, 35 percent of 
the proposed AI ABC is 7,210 mt, which exceeds the AI GHL limit of 
6,804 mt. The Council and its Plan Team, SSC, and AP recommended that 
the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the AI 
not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations for Pacific cod in the AI. 
Accordingly, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, that the 2020 
and 2021 Pacific cod TACs in the AI account for the State's GHL of 
6,804 mt for Pacific cod caught in State waters in the AI.

Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications

    In October 2019, the Council's SSC, its AP, and the Council 
reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the 
condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. This information was compiled 
by the Plan Team and presented in the final 2018 SAFE report for the 
BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2018 (see ADDRESSES). The 
final 2019 SAFE report will be available from the same source.
    The proposed 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications are based on the 
final 2020 harvest specifications published in March 2019 (84 FR 9000; 
March 13, 2019), which were set after consideration of the most recent 
2018 SAFE report, and are based on the initial survey data that were 
presented at the September 2019 Plan Team meeting. The proposed 2020 
and 2021 harvest specifications in this action are subject to change in 
the final harvest specifications to be published by NMFS following the 
Council's December 2019 meeting.
    In November 2019, the Plan Team will update the 2018 SAFE report to 
include new information collected during 2019, such as NMFS stock 
surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team will 
compile this information and present the draft 2019 SAFE report at the 
December 2019 Council meeting. At that meeting, the SSC and the Council 
will review the 2019 SAFE report, and the Council will approve the 2019 
SAFE report. The Council will consider information contained in the 
2019 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2019 Plan Team 
meeting and December 2019 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and 
relevant written comments in making its recommendations for the final 
2020 and 2021 harvest specifications.

Sablefish OFL

    For sablefish, at its October 2019 meeting, the SSC discussed the 
Plan Team's recommendation to review the apportionment and 
specification of the sablefish OFL and its status quo apportionments in 
the BS, AI, and the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). The sablefish stock 
assessment currently uses an Alaska-wide model that establishes an 
Alaska-wide OFL, which is then apportioned to three area specific OFLs: 
BS, AI, and GOA. The Alaska-wide OFL is currently the measurable and 
objective criteria used to monitor and assess the status of the 
sablefish stock to prevent overfishing and to determine whether 
overfishing has occurred or the stock is overfished. The 2018 sablefish 
SAFE highlights that, given extremely high movement rates throughout 
their range, sablefish are likely one Alaska-wide stock with no sub-
populations in Alaska.
    At its September 2019 meeting, the Plan Team discussed that there 
did not appear to be a conservation concern that

[[Page 66131]]

warranted subarea OFLs, particularly since the six sub-area ABC 
apportionments are designed to spread harvest across areas and prevent 
any localized depletion. At its October 2019 meeting, the SSC had 
extensive discussion about the appropriate process for considering a 
combined OFL, and the SSC determined that combining the OFL is a viable 
option to consider for the OFL specification for 2020 and 2021. The 
Plan Team and SSC recommended that the sablefish stock assessment 
include three options for apportioning and specifying sablefish OFLs 
for review at the November 2019 Plan Team and December 2019 SSC 
meetings: (1) No change in the apportionment and specification of a BS 
OFL, an AI OFL, and a GOA OFL (status quo); (2) apportioning and 
specifying a BSAI OFL, and a separate GOA OFL; and (3) specifying an 
Alaska-wide OFL.
    The SSC will review these three options in the sablefish stock 
assessment to consider a possible change to the current sablefish OFL 
apportionment during the December Council meeting. Based on the 
recommendations of the SSC, NMFS may implement a change to the 
specification of sablefish OFL in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest 
specifications.

Potential Changes Between Proposed and Final Specifications

    In previous years, the most significant changes (relative to the 
amount of assessed tonnage of fish) to the OFLs and ABCs from the 
proposed to the final harvest specifications have been based on the 
most recent NMFS stock surveys. These surveys provide updated estimates 
of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and inform changes to the 
models or the models' results used for producing stock assessments. Any 
changes to models used in stock assessments will be recommended by the 
Plan Team in November 2019 and then included in the final 2019 SAFE 
report. Model changes can result in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, and 
TACs. The final 2019 SAFE report will include the most recent 
information, such as catch data.
    The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not 
expected to vary greatly from these proposed harvest specification 
amounts. If the 2019 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend 
is increasing for a species, then the final 2020 and 2021 harvest 
specifications may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest 
specifications. Conversely, if the 2019 SAFE report indicates that the 
stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2020 
and 2021 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the 
proposed harvest specifications. In addition to changes driven by 
biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs 
exceeding 2 million mt. Since the regulations require TACs to be set to 
an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to 
recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan 
Team and the SSC, if setting TACs equal to ABCs would cause total TACs 
to exceed an OY of 2 million mt. Generally, total ABCs greatly exceed 2 
million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. For both 2020 and 
2021, NMFS anticipates that the sum of the final ABCs will exceed 2 
million mt. NMFS expects that the final total TAC for the BSAI for both 
2020 and 2021 will equal 2 million mt each year.
    The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the best available 
biological and socioeconomic information, including projected biomass 
trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and 
revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP 
specifies a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the 
level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 
represents the highest level of information quality available, while 
Tier 6 represents the lowest.
    In October 2019, the SSC adopted the proposed 2020 and 2021 OFLs 
and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The 
Council adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations. These amounts 
are, for the most part, unchanged from the final 2020 harvest 
specifications published in the Federal Register on March 13, 2019 (84 
FR 9000), with the exception of the removal 824 metric tons (mt) from 
the AI Pacific cod TAC to account for an increase in the AI GHL 
fishery, and a corresponding increase of 824 mt to the BS pollock TAC, 
so that the sum of the proposed TACs is within the OY of up to 2 
million mt. For 2020 and 2021, the Council recommended, and NMFS 
proposes, the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs 
reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified OFLs. The sum 
of the proposed 2020 and 2021 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 
2,967,269 mt. The sum of the proposed TACs is 2,000,000 mt.

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed TACs that are equal to the 
proposed ABCs for 2020 and 2021 AI sablefish, BS sablefish, Central AI 
Atka mackerel, BS and Eastern AI Atka mackerel, BS Pacific ocean perch, 
Central AI Pacific ocean perch, Eastern AI Pacific ocean perch, and AI 
``other rockfish.'' The Council recommended proposed TACs less than the 
respective proposed ABCs for all other species. Section 
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 
mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof 
pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are 
set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY.
    The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change 
pending the completion of the final 2019 SAFE report and the Council's 
recommendations for the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications 
during its December 2019 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent 
with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 
2018 SAFE report, and have been adjusted for other biological and 
socioeconomic considerations. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, 
the Council could recommend adjusting the final TACs if ``warranted on 
the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or 
socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum 
of the TACs to fall within the OY range.'' Table 1 lists the proposed 
2020 and 2021 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for 
groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts 
among fisheries and seasons is discussed below.

[[Page 66132]]



  Table 1--Proposed 2020 and 2021 Overfishing Level (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Total Allowable Catch (TAC), Initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ
                                                    Reserve Allocation of Groundfish in the BSAI \1\
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Proposed 2020 and 2021
                 Species                               Area              -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                OFL             ABC             TAC          ITAC \2\         CDQ 3 4
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \4\.............................  BS............................       3,082,000       1,792,000       1,420,824       1,278,742         142,082
                                          AI............................          66,981          55,125          19,000          17,100           1,900
                                          Bogoslof......................         183,080         137,310              75              75  ..............
Pacific cod \5\.........................  BS............................         183,000         137,000         124,625         111,290          13,335
                                          AI............................          27,400          20,600          13,390          11,957           1,433
Sablefish...............................  BS............................           4,441           1,994           1,994             847              75
                                          AI............................           5,997           2,688           2,688             571              50
Yellowfin sole..........................  BSAI..........................         284,000         257,800         166,425         148,618          17,807
Greenland turbot........................  BSAI..........................          10,476           8,908           5,294           4,500             n/a
                                          BS............................             n/a           7,777           5,125           4,356             548
                                          AI............................             n/a           1,131             169             144               -
Arrowtooth flounder.....................  BSAI..........................          83,814          71,411           8,000           6,800             856
Kamchatka flounder......................  BSAI..........................          11,260           9,509           5,000           4,250  ..............
Rock sole \6\...........................  BSAI..........................         147,500         143,700          57,100          50,990           6,110
Flathead sole \7\.......................  BSAI..........................          83,190          68,448          14,500          12,949           1,552
Alaska plaice...........................  BSAI..........................          37,860          31,900          18,000          15,300  ..............
Other flatfish \8\......................  BSAI..........................          21,824          16,368           6,500           5,525  ..............
Pacific Ocean perch.....................  BSAI..........................          59,396          49,211          43,625          38,343             n/a
                                          BS............................             n/a          14,274          14,274          12,133  ..............
                                          EAI...........................             n/a          11,146          11,146           9,953           1,193
                                          CAI...........................             n/a           8,205           8,205           7,327             878
                                          WAI...........................             n/a          15,586          10,000           8,930           1,070
Northern rockfish.......................  BSAI..........................          15,180          12,396           6,500           5,525  ..............
Blackspotted/Rougheye rockfish \9\......  BSAI..........................             868             715             279             237  ..............
                                          EBS/EAI.......................             n/a             448              75              64  ..............
                                          CAI/WAI.......................             n/a             267             204             173  ..............
Shortraker rockfish.....................  BSAI..........................             722             541             358             304  ..............
Other rockfish \10\.....................  BSAI..........................           1,793           1,344             663             564  ..............
                                          BS............................             n/a             956             275             234  ..............
                                          AI............................             n/a             388             388             330  ..............
Atka mackerel...........................  BSAI..........................          73,400          63,400          53,635          47,896           5,739
                                          EAI/BS........................             n/a          22,190          22,190          19,816           2,374
                                          CAI...........................             n/a          13,310          13,310          11,886           1,424
                                          WAI...........................             n/a          27,900          18,135          16,195           1,940
Skates..................................  BSAI..........................          48,944          40,813          26,000          22,100  ..............
Sculpins................................  BSAI..........................          53,201          39,995           5,000           4,250  ..............
Sharks..................................  BSAI..........................             689             517             125             106  ..............
Octopuses...............................  BSAI..........................           4,769           3,576             400             340  ..............
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................                                       4,491,785       2,967,269       2,000,000       1,789,605         194,628
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these
  harvest specifications, the Bering Sea subarea includes the Bogoslof District.
\2\ Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead
  sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a non-specified reserve.
  The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80 species, ITAC is the non-
  CDQ allocation of TAC (see footnote 3 and 4).
\3\ For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 10.7
  percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC
  allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea
  Greenland turbot and BSAI arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). The 2020 hook-and-
  line or pot gear portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. Aleutian
  Islands Greenland turbot, ``other flatfish,'' Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker
  rockfish, blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, ``other rockfish,'' skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses are not allocated to the CDQ Program.
\4\ Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual BS pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second
  for the incidental catch allowance (3.9 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: inshore--50 percent;
  catcher/processor--40 percent; and motherships-10 percent. Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first
  for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation
  for a pollock directed fishery.
\5\ The BS Pacific cod TAC is set to account for the 9 percent, plus 45 mt, of the BS ABC for the State of Alaska's (State) guideline harvest level in
  State waters of the BS. The AI Pacific cod TAC is set to account for 35 percent of the AI ABC for the State guideline harvest level in State waters of
  the AI, unless the State guideline harvest level would exceed 15 million pounds (6,804 mt), in which case the TAC is set to account for the maximum
  authorized State guideline harvest level.
\6\ ``Rock sole'' includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole).
\7\ ``Flathead sole'' includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder).
\8\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole,
  Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.
\9\ ``Blackspotted/Rougheye rockfish'' includes Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted) and Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye).
\10\ ``Other rockfish'' includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for dark rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, blackspotted/
  rougheye rockfish, and shortraker rockfish.

[[Page 66133]]

 
Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2 (BSAI = Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area, BS = Bering Sea subarea, AI =
  Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI = Eastern Aleutian district, CAI = Central Aleutian district, WAI = Western Aleutian district).

Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for 
Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and 
AI Pacific Ocean Perch

    Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the 
TAC for each target species category (except for pollock, hook-and-line 
and pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species) in a 
non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that NMFS 
allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of 
sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve for each subarea. 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires that NMFS allocate 7.5 percent of 
the trawl gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of BS Greenland 
turbot and arrowtooth flounder TACs to the respective CDQ reserves. 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires that NMFS allocate 10.7 percent of 
the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, 
rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the respective CDQ 
reserves.
    Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) require allocation of 10 
percent of the BS pollock TAC to the pollock CDQ directed fishing 
allowance (DFA). Sections 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and 679.31(a) 
require 10 percent of the AI pollock TAC be allocated to the pollock 
CDQ DFA. The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an 
ICA pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(ii) because the Bogoslof District is 
closed to directed fishing for pollock by regulation (Sec.  
679.22(a)(7)(B)). With the exception of the hook-and-line or pot gear 
sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ 
reserves by gear.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock 
ICA of 3.9 percent or 49,871 mt of the BS pollock TAC after subtracting 
the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS's examination 
of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded catch, including the 
incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock 
from 2000 through 2019. During this 20-year period, the pollock 
incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.2 percent in 2006 to a high of 
4.6 percent in 2014, with a 20-year average of 3 percent. Pursuant to 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock 
ICA of 14 percent or 2,400 mt of the AI pollock TAC after subtracting 
the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS's examination 
of the pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ 
vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2019. 
During this 17-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from 
a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2014, with a 17-
year average of 9 percent.
    Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 
3,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 4,000 mt of yellowfin 
sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 60 mt of 
Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern 
Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 20 mt of Western Aleutian 
District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka 
mackerel, and 800 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and BS Atka mackerel, 
after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserve. These ICAs are based on 
NMFS's examination of the average incidental catch in other target 
fisheries from 2003 through 2019.
    The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified 
reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be 
apportioned to a target species that contributed to the non-specified 
reserve during the year, provided that such apportionments are 
consistent with Sec.  679.20(a)(3) and do not result in overfishing 
(see Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i)).

Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA)

    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that BS pollock TAC be 
apportioned as a DFA, after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ Program 
and 3.9 percent for the ICA, as follows: 50 percent to the inshore 
sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor (C/P) sector, and 10 
percent to the mothership sector. In the BS, 45 percent of the DFA is 
allocated to the A season (January 20 to June 10), and 55 percent of 
the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) 
(Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)(1) and 679.23(e)(2)). The AI directed 
pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of 
pollock TAC remaining in the AI after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ 
DFA (10 percent), and 2,400 mt for the ICA (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)). In the AI, the total A season apportionment 
of the pollock TAC (including the AI directed fishery allocation, the 
CDQ DFA, and the ICA) may equal up to 40 percent of the ABC for AI 
pollock, and the remainder of the pollock TAC is allocated to the B 
season (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(3)). Table 2 lists these proposed 
2020 and 2021 amounts.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in 
the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In 
Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent 
of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit 
is no more than 15 percent of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 541, the A 
season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent of the AI 
pollock ABC.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) includes several specific 
requirements regarding BS pollock allocations. First, it requires that 
8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the C/P sector be available for 
harvest by AFA catcher vessels (CV) with C/P sector endorsements, 
unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that 
allows the distribution of harvest among AFA C/Ps and AFA CVs in a 
manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA C/Ps not listed in the AFA 
are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock 
allocated to the C/P sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 
allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 13, 14, and 15 list the AFA C/P and 
CV harvesting sideboard limits. The BS inshore pollock cooperative and 
open access sector allocations are based on the submission of AFA 
inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each 
calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2020 
have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS therefore cannot calculate 
2020 allocations, NMFS has not included inshore cooperative tables in 
these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post 2020 AFA inshore 
pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations on the Alaska 
Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheries-management-reports prior to the start of the 
fishing year on January 1, 2020, based on the harvest specifications 
effective on that date.
    Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and 
harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The 
harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at Sec.  
679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the annual 
pollock DFA before 12:00 noon, April 1, as provided in Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be

[[Page 66134]]

apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector's allocated 
percentage of the DFA. Table 2 lists these proposed 2020 and 2021 
amounts by sector.

  Table 2--Proposed 2020 and 2021 Allocations of Pollock TACs to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ
                                      Directed Fishing Allowances (DFA) \1\
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           A season \1\            B season \1\
                                                   2020 and 2021 -----------------------------------------------
                 Area and sector                    allocations                     SCA harvest
                                                                   A season DFA      limit \2\     B season DFA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea subarea TAC..........................       1,420,824             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................         142,082          63,937          39,783          78,145
ICA \1\.........................................          49,871             n/a             n/a             n/a
Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ)..................       1,228,871         552,992         344,084         675,879
AFA Inshore.....................................         614,435         276,496         172,042         337,939
AFA Catcher/Processors \3\......................         491,548         221,197         137,634         270,352
    Catch by C/Ps...............................         449,767         202,395             n/a         247,372
    Catch by C/Vs \3\...........................          41,782          18,802             n/a          22,980
    Unlisted C/P Limit \4\......................           2,458           1,106             n/a           1,352
AFA Motherships.................................         122,887          55,299          34,408          67,588
Excessive Harvesting Limit \5\..................         215,052             n/a             n/a             n/a
Excessive Processing Limit \6\..................         368,661             n/a             n/a             n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea ABC....................          55,125             n/a             n/a             n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea TAC....................          19,000             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................           1,900             760             n/a           1,140
ICA.............................................           2,400           1,200             n/a           1,200
Aleut Corporation...............................          14,700          10,361             n/a           4,339
Area harvest limit \7\..........................             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a
    Area 541 harvest limit \7\..................          16,538             n/a             n/a             n/a
    Area 542 harvest limit \7\..................           8,269             n/a             n/a             n/a
    Area 543 harvest limit \7\..................           2,756             n/a             n/a             n/a
Bogoslof District ICA \8\.......................              75             n/a             n/a             n/a
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ
  DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (3.9 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: Inshore sector--50 percent,
  catcher/processor sector (C/Ps)--40 percent, and mothership sector-10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45
  percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to
  the B season (June 10-November 1). Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) through (iii), the annual AI
  pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second for the ICA (2,400 mt), is
  allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is
  allocated up to 40 percent of the AI pollock ABC.
\2\ In the Bering Sea subarea, pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(C), no more than 28 percent of each sector's
  annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1.
\3\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed C/Ps shall be available
  for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels with C/P endorsement delivering to listed C/Ps, unless there is a
  C/P sector cooperative for the year.
\4\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted C/Ps are limited to harvesting not more than
  0.5 percent of the C/Ps sector's allocation of pollock.
\5\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5
  percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
\6\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0
  percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
\7\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in
  Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent
  of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC.
\8\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.22(a)(7)(B), the Bogoslof District is closed to directed fishing for pollock. The
  amounts specified are for incidental catch only and are not apportioned by season or sector.

Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs

    Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the 
Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting 
the CDQ reserves, ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and 
non-trawl gear sectors, and the jig gear allocation (Table 3). The 
percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 
and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to 50 CFR 
part 679 and in Sec.  679.91. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 
2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka 
mackerel TAC may be allocated to vessels using jig gear. The percent of 
this allocation is recommended annually by the Council based on several 
criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear 
fleet. The Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, a 0.5 percent 
allocation of the Atka mackerel TAC in the Eastern Aleutian District 
and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2020 and 2021.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into 
two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first 
seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 
through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 
10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies 
Atka mackerel seasons to trawl CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and 
jig gear allocations are not apportioned by season.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limits Atka mackerel 
catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in 
Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located west of 178[deg] W longitude to 
no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543, and 
equally divides the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined 
at Sec.  679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires that the 
annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in 
Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested 
Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be 
prohibited from being

[[Page 66135]]

harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed 
in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located in Areas 541, 542, and 543.
    Table 3 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 Atka mackerel season 
allowances, area allowances, and the sector allocations. One Amendment 
80 cooperative has formed for the 2020 fishing year. Because all 
Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2020. The 2021 
allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible 
participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 
2020. NMFS will post 2021 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 
limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at 
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on 
January 1, 2021, based on the harvest specifications effective on that 
date.

   Table 3--Proposed 2020 and 2021 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch
                   Allowance (ICA), and Amendment 80 Allocations of the BSAI Atka Mackerel TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     2020 and 2021 allocation by area
                                                        --------------------------------------------------------
            Sector \1\                 Season 2 3 4       Eastern Aleutian
                                                          District/Bering    Central Aleutian   Western Aleutian
                                                                Sea            District \5\       District \5\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC..............................  n/a.................             22,190             13,310             18,135
CDQ reserve......................  Total...............              2,374              1,424              1,940
                                   A...................              1,187                712                970
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a                427                582
                                   B...................              1,187                712                970
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a                427                582
non-CDQ TAC......................  n/a.................             19,816             11,886             16,195
ICA..............................  Total...............                800                 75                 20
Jig \6\..........................  Total...............                 95  .................  .................
BSAI trawl limited access........  Total...............              1,892              1,181  .................
                                   A...................                946                591  .................
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a                354  .................
                                   B...................                946                591  .................
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a                354  .................
Amendment 80.....................  Total...............             17,029             10,630             16,175
                                   A...................              8,514              5,315              8,087
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a              3,189              4,852
                                   B...................              8,514              5,315              8,087
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a              3,189              4,852
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs, and the
  jig gear allocation, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for
  Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR
  part 679 and Sec.   679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.
  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31).
\2\ Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel
  fishery.
\3\ The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season.
\4\ Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from
  January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31.
\5\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to
  be caught inside of Steller sea lion critical habitat; Sec.   679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the
  annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at Sec.   679.23(e)(3); and Sec.   679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2)
  requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC in Area 543.
\6\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea
  subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserve and ICA. The proposed amount of this
  allocation for 2020 and 2021 is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.

Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC

    The Council separated BS and AI subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for 
Pacific cod in 2014 (79 FR 12108; March 4, 2014). Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC 
to the CDQ Program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the 
respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific 
cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector 
allocations. If the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be reached in 
either the BS or the AI subareas, NMFS will prohibit directed fishing 
for non-CDQ Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iii).
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocates to the non-CDQ sectors 
the combined BSAI Pacific cod TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for 
the CDQ Program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 
percent to hook-and-line or pot CVs less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length 
overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line CVs greater than or equal 
to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line C/Ps, 8.4 percent 
to pot CVs greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to 
pot C/Ps, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl C/Ps, 13.4 percent to the Amendment 
80 sector, and 22.1 percent to trawl CVs. The BSAI ICA for the hook-
and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of 
BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. 
For 2020 and 2021, the Regional Administrator proposes a BSAI ICA of 
400 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other 
fisheries.
    The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector 
is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and Sec.  679.91. One 
Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2020 fishing year. Because 
all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to 
the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2020. The 2021 
allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80

[[Page 66136]]

cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2020. NMFS will post 2021 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska 
Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start of the 
fishing year on January 1, 2021, based on the harvest specifications 
effective on that date.
    The sector allocations of Pacific cod are apportioned into seasonal 
allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year 
(see Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(i)(B), 679.20 (a)(7)(iv)(A), and 
679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and 
(C), any unused portion of a Pacific cod seasonal allowance for any 
sector, except the jig sector, will become available at the beginning 
of that sector's next seasonal allowance.
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires that the Regional Administrator 
establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod 
abundance in Area 543. Based on the 2018 stock assessment, the Regional 
Administrator determined for 2020 and 2021 that the estimated amount of 
Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 is 15.7 percent of total AI 
abundance. NMFS will first subtract the State GHL Pacific cod amount 
from the AI Pacific cod ABC. Then NMFS will determine the harvest limit 
in Area 543 by multiplying the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in 
Area 543 (15.7 percent) by the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod. Based 
on these calculations, which rely on the 2018 stock assessment, the 
proposed Area 543 harvest limit is 2,102 mt. However, the final Area 
543 harvest limit could change if the Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 
changes based on the stock assessment in the final 2019 SAFE report.
    On March 21, 2019, the final rule adopting Amendment 113 to the FMP 
(81 FR 84434; November 23, 2016) was vacated by the U.S. District Court 
for the District of Columbia (Groundfish Forum v. Ross, No. 16-2495 
(D.D.C. March 21, 2019)), and the corresponding regulations 
implementing Amendment 113 are no longer in effect. Therefore, this 
proposed rule is not specifying amounts for the AI Pacific Cod Catcher 
Vessel Harvest Set-Aside Program (see Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(viii)).
    Table 4 lists the CDQ and non-CDQ seasonal allowances by gear based 
on the proposed 2020 and 2021 Pacific cod TACs; the sector allocation 
percentages of Pacific cod set forth at Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) 
and (a)(7)(iv)(A); and the seasons set forth at Sec.  679.23(e)(5).

                       Table 4--Proposed 2020 and 2021 Sector Allocations and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI \1\ Pacific Cod TAC
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            2020 and 2021   2020 and 2021               2020 and 2021 seasonal apportionment
                   Sector                       Percent     share of gear     share of    --------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            sector total    sector total                        Season                          Amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total Bering Sea TAC........................          n/a         124,625             n/a  n/a.............................................          n/a
Bering Sea CDQ..............................          n/a          13,335             n/a  See Sec.   679.20(a)(7)(i)(B)...................          n/a
Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC......................          n/a         111,290             n/a  n/a.............................................          n/a
Total Aleutian Islands TAC..................          n/a          13,390             n/a  n/a.............................................          n/a
Aleutian Islands CDQ........................          n/a           1,433             n/a  See Sec.   679.20(a)(7)(i)(B)...................          n/a
Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC................          n/a          11,957             n/a  n/a.............................................          n/a
Western Aleutians Islands Limit.............          n/a           2,102             n/a  n/a.............................................          n/a
Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC \1\..................          100         123,247             n/a  n/a.............................................          n/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear................           61          74,934             n/a  n/a.............................................          n/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA \2\...................          n/a             n/a             400  n/a.............................................          n/a
Hook-and-line/pot sub-total.................          n/a          74,534             n/a  n/a.............................................          n/a
Hook-and-line catcher/processors............           49             n/a          59,701  Jan-1-Jun 10....................................       30,448
                                                                                           Jun 10-Dec 31...................................       29,254
Hook-and-line catcher vessels >=60 ft LOA...            0             n/a             245  Jan 1-Jun 10....................................          125
                                                                                           Jun 10-Dec 31...................................          120
Pot catcher/processors......................            2             n/a           1,839  Jan 1-Jun 10....................................          938
                                                                                           Sept 1-Dec 31...................................          901
Pot catcher vessels >=60 ft LOA.............            8             n/a          10,298  Jan 1-Jun 10....................................        5,252
                                                                                           Sept-1-Dec 31...................................        5,046
Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA using hook-and-              2             n/a           2,452  n/a.............................................          n/a
 line or pot gear.
Trawl catcher vessels.......................           22          27,238             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....................................       20,156
                                                                                           Apr 1-Jun 10....................................        2,996
                                                                                           Jun 10-Nov 1....................................        4,086
AFA trawl catcher/processors................            2           2,835             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....................................        2,126
                                                                                           Apr 1-Jun 10....................................          709
                                                                                           Jun 10-Nov 1....................................  ...........
Amendment 80................................           13          16,515             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....................................       12,386
                                                                                           Apr 1-Jun 10....................................        4,129
                                                                                           Jun 10-Nov 1....................................  ...........
Jig.........................................            1           1,725             n/a  Jan 1-Apr 30....................................        1,035
                                                                                           Apr 30-Aug 31...................................          345
                                                                                           Aug 31-Dec 31...................................          345
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The sector allocations and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, after subtraction of
  the reserve for the CDQ Program. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing will be prohibited for Pacific
  cod in that subarea, even if a BSAI allowance remains.

[[Page 66137]]

 
\2\ The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot
  sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 400 mt for 2020 and 2021 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.

Sablefish Gear Allocation

    Section 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of sablefish 
TAC for the BS and AI between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear. 
Gear allocations of the sablefish TAC for the BS are 50 percent for 
trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear 
allocations of the TAC for the AI are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 
percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) 
requires that NMFS apportion 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot 
gear allocation of sablefish TAC to the CDQ reserve for each subarea. 
Also, Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the 
trawl gear allocation of sablefish TAC from the non-specified reserve, 
established under Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i), be apportioned to the CDQ 
reserve. The Council recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be 
established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-and-
line or pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries are 
limited to the 2020 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are 
conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent 
sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries reduce the potential for discards 
of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ 
fisheries remain closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the 
final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in 
effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 gear allocations of 
the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts.

                                   Table 5--Proposed 2020 and 2021 Gear Shares and CDQ Reserve of BSAI Sablefish TACs
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           2020 Share of                     2020 CDQ      2021 Share of                     2021 CDQ
            Subarea and gear              Percent of TAC        TAC        2020 ITAC \1\      reserve           TAC          2021 ITAC        reserve
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea
    Trawl...............................              50             997             847              75             997             847              75
    Hook-and-line gear/pot \2\..........              50             997             n/a             199             n/a             n/a             n/a
        Total...........................             100           1,994             847             274             997             847              75
Aleutian Islands
    Trawl...............................              25             672             571              50             672             571              50
    Hook-and-line gear/pot \2\..........              75           2,016             n/a             403             n/a             n/a             n/a
        Total...........................             100           2,688             571             454             672             571              50
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Except for the sablefish hook-and-line and pot gear allocation, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the non-specified reserve (Sec.
  679.20(b)(1)(i)). The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves.
\2\ For the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by
  CDQ participants (Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B)). The Council recommended that specifications for the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish IFQ fisheries
  be limited to one year.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Allocation of the AI Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock 
Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs

    Section 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI 
Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin 
sole TACs between the Amendment 80 sector and the BSAI trawl limited 
access sector, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserves and 
amounts for ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels 
using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean 
perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the 
Amendment 80 sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to 50 CFR part 
679 and in Sec.  679.91.
    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2020 fishing year. 
Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 
2020. The 2021 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 
80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2020. NMFS will post 2021 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the 
Alaska Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2021, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes 
each Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each 
cooperatives' quota share units and the total Amendment 80 quota share 
units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective 
species. Table 6 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 allocations of the AI 
Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin 
sole TACs.

[[Page 66138]]



    Table 6--Proposed 2020 and 2021 Community Development Quota (CDQ) Reserves, Incidental Catch Amounts (ICAS), and Amendment 80 Allocations of the
                            Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             2020 and 2021 allocations
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                        Pacific ocean perch                Flathead sole     Rock sole    Yellowfin sole
                         Sector                          -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Eastern         Central         Western
                                                             Aleutian        Aleutian        Aleutian          BSAI            BSAI            BSAI
                                                             district        district        district
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC.....................................................          11,146           8,205          10,000          14,500          57,100         166,425
CDQ.....................................................           1,193             878           1,070           1,552           6,110          17,807
ICA.....................................................             100              60              10           3,000           6,000           4,000
BSAI trawl limited access...............................             985             727             178  ..............  ..............          22,789
Amendment 80............................................           8,868           6,540           8,742           9,949          44,990         121,828
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, 
and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for 
each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the 
ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, 
environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the 
CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from achieving, on a 
continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. 
NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at 
or below the ABC surplus for each species, thus maintaining the TAC 
below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves 
will be allocated as CDQ ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and 
yellowfin sole. Section 679.31(b)(4) establishes the annual allocations 
of CDQ ABC reserves among the CDQ groups. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves 
are the ABC reserves minus the CDQ ABC reserves and are allocated to 
each Amendment 80 cooperative pursuant to Sec.  679.91(i)(2). Table 7 
lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 ABC surplus and ABC reserves for BSAI 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.

 Table 7--Proposed 2020 and 2021 ABC Surplus, ABC Reserves, Community Development Quota (CDQ) ABC Reserves, and
             Amendment 80 ABC Reserves in the BSAI for Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Sector                                Flathead sole     Rock sole    Yellowfin sole
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC.............................................................          68,448         143,700         257,800
TAC.............................................................          14,500          57,100         166,425
ABC surplus.....................................................          53,948          86,600          91,375
ABC reserve.....................................................          53,948          86,600          91,375
CDQ ABC reserve.................................................           5,772           9,266           9,777
Amendment 80 ABC reserve........................................          48,176          77,334          81,598
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring

    Section 679.21(b), (e), (f), and (g) set forth the BSAI PSC limits. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(b)(1), the annual BSAI halibut PSC limits 
total 3,515 mt. Section 679.21(b)(1) allocates 315 mt of the halibut 
PSC limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program, 
1,745 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector, 745 mt 
of the halibut PSC limit for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, and 
710 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the BSAI non-trawl sector.
    Section 679.21(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B) authorize apportionment of the 
BSAI non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC allowances among six fishery 
categories, and Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B), (e)(3)(i)(B), and 
(e)(3)(iv) require apportionment of the BSAI trawl limited access 
sector's halibut and crab PSC limits into PSC allowances among seven 
fishery categories. Table 10 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances 
for the BSAI trawl limited access sector fisheries, and Table 11 lists 
the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the non-trawl fisheries.
    Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and 
NMFS proposes, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt 
from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consultation with 
the Council, NMFS proposes to exempt the pot gear fishery, the jig gear 
fishery, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories 
from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1) The 
pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS 
estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible 
because of the small size of the fishery and the selectivity of the 
gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries have low halibut 
bycatch mortality because the IFQ Program requires legal-size halibut 
to be retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ 
permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut 
IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the 
vessel is operating (Sec.  679.7(f)(11)).
    As of November 2019, total groundfish catch for the pot gear 
fishery in the BSAI was 45,567 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch 
mortality of 3.7 mt. The 2019 jig gear fishery harvested about 190 mt 
of groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from 
observer coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not 
available on halibut bycatch in

[[Page 66139]]

the jig gear fishery. As mentioned above, NMFS estimates a negligible 
amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of the selective nature of 
jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and 
released.
    Under Sec.  679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of 
either 33,318, 45,000, 47,591, or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits 
among the AFA sectors, depending on past bycatch performance, on 
whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements (IPAs) are 
formed, and on whether NMFS determines it is a low Chinook salmon 
abundance year. NMFS will determine that it is a low Chinook salmon 
abundance year when abundance of Chinook salmon in western Alaska is 
less than or equal to 250,000 Chinook salmon. The State provides to 
NMFS an estimate of Chinook salmon abundance using the 3-System Index 
for western Alaska, based on the Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and Upper Yukon 
aggregate stock grouping.
    If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not 
exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6), and if it 
is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a 
portion of the 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no IPA is approved, or if 
the sector has exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  
679.21(f)(6), and if it is not a low abundance year, then NMFS will 
allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that 
sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). If an AFA sector 
participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance 
standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, then NMFS 
will allocate a portion of the 45,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that 
sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). If no IPA is 
approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under 
Sec.  679.21(f)(6), and if in a low abundance year, then NMFS will 
allocate a portion of the 33,318 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that 
sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D).
    As of October 1, 2019, NMFS has determined that 2019 was not a low 
Chinook salmon abundance year, based on the State's estimate that 
Chinook salmon abundance in western Alaska is greater than 250,000 
Chinook salmon. Therefore, in 2020, the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 
60,000 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in Sec.  
679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). The AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are 
also seasonally apportioned with 70 percent of the allocation for the A 
season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B 
season pollock fishery (Sec. Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(i) and 679.23(e)(2)). 
In 2020, the Chinook salmon bycatch performance standard under Sec.  
679.21(f)(6) is 47,591 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C).
    NMFS publishes the approved IPAs, allocations, and reports at 
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska.
    Section 679.21(g)(2)(i) specifies 700 fish as the 2020 and 2021 
Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI pollock fishery. Section 
679.21(g)(2)(ii) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI 
PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and allocates the remaining 647 
Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries.
    Section 679.21(f)(14)(i) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2020 and 2021 
non-Chinook salmon PSC limit for vessels using trawl gear from August 
15 through October 14 in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area (CVOA). 
Section 679.21(f)(14)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494 non-Chinook 
salmon, in the CVOA as the PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and 
allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA to the 
non-CDQ fisheries.
    PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on 
abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as 
of October 2019 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the 
Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, basing the herring 2020 and 
2021 PSC limits and apportionments on the 2018 survey data. The Council 
will reconsider these amounts in December 2019. Section 
679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl gear PSC 
limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ 
Program.
    Based on 2019 survey data, the red king crab mature female 
abundance is estimated at 10.613 million red king crabs, and the 
effective spawning biomass is estimated at 28.009 million lbs (12,705 
mt). Based on the criteria set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(i), the 
proposed 2020 and 2021 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl 
gear is 97,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female 
abundance estimate of more than 8.4 million red king crab and the 
effective spawning biomass estimate of more than 14.5 million lbs 
(6,577 mt) but less than 55 million lbs (24,948 mt).
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which 
NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red 
King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS) if the State has established a GHL 
fishery for red king crab in the Bristol Bay area in the previous year. 
The regulations limit the bycatch in the RKCSS to up to 25 percent of 
the red king crab PSC allowance, based on the need to optimize the 
groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. NMFS proposes the 
Council's recommendation that the red king crab bycatch limit for 2020 
and 2021 be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance 
within the RKCSS (Table 9).
    Based on 2019 survey data, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) 
abundance is estimated at 2,574 million animals. Pursuant to criteria 
set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2020 and 2021 C. 
bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 980,000 animals in Zone 1, and 
2,970,000 animals in Zone 2. The limit in Zone 1 is based on the 
abundance of C. bairdi (estimated at 2,574 million animals), which is 
greater than 400 million animals. The limit in Zone 2 is based on the 
abundance of C. bairdi (estimated at 2,574 million animals), which is 
greater than 400 million animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for trawl gear 
for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by 
the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in 
the C. opilio bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent 
of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs. Based on the 
2019 survey estimate of 7.706 billion animals, the calculated C. opilio 
crab PSC limit is 8,580,898 animals, which is above the minimum PSC 
limit of 4.5 million and below the maximum PSC limit of 13 million 
animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring 
caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 
percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best 
estimate of 2020 and 2021 herring biomass is 254,709 mt. This amount 
was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on 
biomass for spawning aggregations. Therefore, the herring PSC limit 
proposed for 2020 and 2021 is 2,547 mt for all trawl gear as listed in 
Tables 8 and 9.
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires that PSQ reserves be subtracted 
from the total trawl PSC limits. The 2020 crab and halibut PSC limits 
assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are 
listed in Table 35 to 50 CFR part 679. The resulting proposed 
allocations of PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the 
BSAI trawl limited access sector are listed in

[[Page 66140]]

Table 8. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  [thinsp]679.21(b)(1)(i), 
679.21(e)(3)(vi), and 679.91(d) through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC 
limits assigned to the Amendment 80 sector are then further allocated 
to Amendment 80 cooperatives as cooperative quota. Crab and halibut PSC 
cooperative quota assigned to Amendment 80 cooperatives is not 
allocated to specific fishery categories.
    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2020 fishing year. 
Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no PSC 
limit allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required 
for 2020. The 2021 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2020. NMFS will post 2021 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska 
Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start of the 
fishing year on January 1, 2021, based on the harvest specifications 
effective on that date.
    Section 679.21(b)(2) and (e)(5) authorize NMFS, after consulting 
with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of halibut and 
crab PSC amounts for the BSAI non-trawl, BSAI trawl limited access, and 
Amendment 80 limited access sectors to maximize the ability of the 
fleet to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. 
The factors considered are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited 
species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species 
relative to prohibited species distribution, (3) prohibited species 
bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species 
biomass and expected catches of target groundfish species, (4) expected 
variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected changes 
in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected start of fishing 
effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal prohibited 
species apportionments on segments of the target groundfish industry. 
Based on this criteria, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, the 
seasonal PSC apportionments in Tables 10 and 11 to maximize harvest 
among gear types, fisheries, and seasons, while minimizing bycatch of 
PSC.

 Table 8--Proposed 2020 and 2021 Apportionment of Prohibited Species Catch Allowances to Non-Trawl Gear, the CDQ
                        Program, Amendment 80, and the BSAI Trawl Limited Access Sectors
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Trawl PSC                 BSAI trawl
                                                  Non-trawl     CDQ PSQ     remaining    Amendment     limited
     PSC species and area \1\        Total PSC       PSC      reserve \2\   after CDQ    80 sector      access
                                                                               PSQ          \3\         sector
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI.......        3,515          710          315          n/a        1,745          745
Herring (mt) BSAI.................        2,547          n/a          n/a          n/a          n/a          n/a
Red king crab (animals) Zone 1....       97,000          n/a       10,379       86,621       43,293       26,489
C. opilio (animals) COBLZ.........    8,580,898          n/a      918,156    7,662,742    3,766,238    2,462,805
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1...      980,000          n/a      104,860      875,140      368,521      411,228
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2...    2,970,000          n/a      317,790    2,652,210      627,778    1,241,500
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas and zones.
\2\ The PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit.
\3\ The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits for crab below the total PSC limit.
  These reductions are not apportioned to other gear types or sectors.


    Table 9--Proposed 2020 and 2021 Herring and Red King Crab Savings
    Subarea Prohibited Species Catch Allowances for All Trawl Sectors
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Red king crab
           Fishery categories              Herring (mt)   (animals) Zone
                                               BSAI              1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole..........................             111             n/a
Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish                54             n/a
 \1\....................................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/                  7             n/a
 Kamchatka flounder/sablefish...........
Rockfish................................               7             n/a
Pacific cod.............................              13             n/a
Midwater trawl pollock..................           2,313             n/a
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 2 3.              42             n/a
Red king crab savings subarea non-                   n/a          24,250
 pelagic trawl gear \4\.................
                                         -------------------------------
    Total trawl PSC.....................           2,547          97,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species,
  except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth
  flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock
  sole, and yellowfin sole.
\2\ Pollock other than midwater trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and
  ``other species'' fishery category.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins,
  sharks, and octopuses.
\4\ In October 2019, the Council recommended that the red king crab
  bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be
  limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see Sec.
  679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)).
Note: Species allowances may not total precisely due to rounding.


[[Page 66141]]


 Table 10--Proposed 2020 and 2021 Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for the BSAI Trawl Limited Access Sector
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Prohibited species and area \1\
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BSAI trawl limited access sector      Halibut      Red king crab     C. opilio          C. bairdi (animals)
            fisheries             mortality (mt)  (animals) Zone     (animals)   -------------------------------
                                       BSAI              1             COBLZ          Zone 1          Zone 2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole..................             150          23,338       2,321,656         346,228       1,185,500
Rock sole/flathead sole/other     ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............
 flatfish \2\...................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth       ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............
 flounder/Kamchatka flounder/
 sablefish......................
Rockfish April 15-December 31...               4  ..............           3,835  ..............           1,000
Pacific cod.....................             391           2,954          98,959          60,000          49,999
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other                  200             197          38,356           5,000           5,000
 species \3\....................
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total BSAI trawl limited                 745          26,489       2,462,805         411,228       1,241,500
     access sector PSC..........
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas and zones.
\2\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole,
  and yellowfin sole.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses.
Note: Species allowances may not total precisely due to rounding.


     Table 11--Proposed 2020 and 2021 Halibut Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for Non-Trawl Fisheries
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Non-trawl fisheries                                        Catcher/
                                                 Seasons             processor    Catcher vessel   All non-trawl
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod...........................  Annual Pacific cod......             648              13             n/a
                                        January 1-June 10.......             388               9             n/a
                                        June 10-August 15.......             162               2             n/a
                                        August 15-December 31...              98               2             n/a
Non-Pacific cod non-trawl-Total.......  May 1-December 31.......             n/a             n/a              49
Groundfish pot and jig................  n/a.....................             n/a             n/a          Exempt
Sablefish hook-and-line...............  n/a.....................             n/a             n/a          Exempt
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total for all non-trawl PSC.......  n/a.....................             n/a             n/a             710
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch 
rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of 
groundfish catch to project when a fishery's halibut bycatch mortality 
allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental 
catch rates are based on observers' estimates of halibut incidental 
catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion 
of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned 
to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a 
particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the 
estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific 
information available in conjunction with the annual BSAI stock 
assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an 
appendix to the annual BSAI groundfish SAFE report.
    In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the 
Council's directive. An interagency halibut working group 
(International Pacific Halibut Commission, Council, and NMFS staff) 
developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the 
Plan Team, SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology 
is included in the BSAI proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications 
(81 FR 87863; December 6, 2016), and the comprehensive discussion of 
the working group's statistical methodology is available from the 
Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR working group's revised methodology is 
intended to improve estimation accuracy, transparency, and 
transferability in the methodology used for calculating DMRs. The 
working group will continue to consider improvements to the methodology 
used to calculate halibut mortality, including potential changes to the 
reference period (the period of data used for calculating the DMRs). 
Future DMRs may change based on additional years of observer sampling, 
which could provide more recent and accurate data and which could 
improve the accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The 
methodology will continue to ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more 
accurately reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different 
sectors of their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors 
to respond with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, 
the DMR for that sector.
    In October 2019, the Council recommended adopting the halibut DMRs 
derived from the revised methodology for the proposed 2020 and 2021 
DMRs. The proposed 2020 and 2021 DMRs use an updated 2-year reference 
period of 2017 and 2018. Comparing the proposed 2020 and 2021 DMRs to 
the final DMRs from the 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, the 
proposed DMR for C/Ps and

[[Page 66142]]

motherships using non-pelagic trawl gear decreased to 75 percent from 
78 percent, the proposed DMR for C/Vs using non-pelagic trawl gear 
decreased to 58 percent from 59 percent, the proposed DMR for C/Ps 
using hook-and-line gear increased to 9 percent from 8 percent, the 
proposed DMR for CVs using hook-and-line gear increased to 9 percent 
from 4 percent, and the proposed DMR for C/Ps and CVs using pot gear 
increased to 27 percent from 19 percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 
2020 and 2021 DMRs.

Table 12--Proposed 2020 and 2021 Pacific Halibut Discard Mortality Rates
                           (DMR) for the BSAI
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Halibut
                                                              discard
              Gear                        Sector          mortality rate
                                                             (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pelagic trawl..................  All....................             100
Non-pelagic trawl..............  Catcher/processor and                75
                                  motherships.
Non-pelagic trawl..............  Catcher vessel.........              58
Hook-and-line..................  Catcher/processor......               9
Hook-and-line..................  Catcher vessel.........               9
Pot............................  All....................              27
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Listed AFA C/P Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA C/Ps to engage in 
directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect 
participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects 
resulting from the AFA fishery and from fishery cooperatives in the 
directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are set out as sideboard 
limits on catch. On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 
FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA C/Ps 
from directed fishing for groundfish species or species groups subject 
to sideboard limits (see Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 54 to 50 
CFR part 679). Section 679.64(a)(1)(v) exempts AFA C/Ps from a 
yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the proposed 2020 and 2021 
aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector 
and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt.
    Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to 50 CFR part 679 
establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for halibut 
and crab caught by listed AFA C/Ps. The basis for these sideboard 
limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major 
provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692; December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 
(72 FR 52668; September 14, 2007). PSC species listed in Table 13 that 
are caught by listed AFA C/Ps participating in any groundfish fishery 
other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2020 and 2021 PSC 
sideboard limits for the listed AFA C/Ps. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), 
(e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for 
groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA C/Ps once a proposed 2020 
or 2021 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 13 is reached. Pursuant to 
Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC by 
listed AFA C/Ps while fishing for pollock will accrue against the PSC 
allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/``other 
species'' fishery categories, according to Sec. Sec.  
679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).

    Table 13--Proposed 2020 and 2021 BSAI American Fisheries Act Listed Catcher/Processor Prohibited Species
                                                Sideboard Limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 Proposed 2020
                                                                                  and 2021 PSC
                                                                                  available to    Proposed 2020
                   PSC species and area \1\                    Ratio of PSC to   trawl vessels     and 2021 C/P
                                                                  total PSC          after       sideboard limit
                                                                                 subtraction of        \2\
                                                                                    PSQ \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BSAI Halibut mortality.......................................              n/a              n/a              286
Red king crab Zone 1.........................................            0.007           86,621              606
C. opilio (COBLZ)............................................            0.153        7,662,742        1,172,400
C. bairdi Zone 1.............................................            0.140          875,140          122,520
C. bairdi Zone 2.............................................            0.050        2,652,210          132,611
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.

AFA CV Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  [thinsp]679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of AFA CVs to engage in 
directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect 
participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects 
resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the pollock 
directed fishery. On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 
FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA C/Vs 
from directed fishing for a majority of the groundfish species or 
species groups subject to sideboard limits (see Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 55 to 50 CFR part 679). The remainder of 
the sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA C/Vs are proposed in Table 14.
    Section 679.64(b)(3) and (b)(4) establish formulas for setting AFA 
CV groundfish and halibut and crab PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. 
The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the 
final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692; 
December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668; September 14, 2007). 
Section 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA CVs from a

[[Page 66143]]

yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the proposed 2020 and 2021 
aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector 
and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Table 
14 lists the proposed 2020 and 2021 AFA CV sideboard limits.

  Table 14--Proposed 2020 and 2021 BSAI Pacific Cod Sideboard Limits for American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessels
                                                      (CVs)
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                  2020 and 2021
                                                                Ratio of 1995-                     AFA catcher
                 Fishery by area/gear/season                     1997 AFA CV     2020 and 2021        vessel
                                                                catch to 1995-    initial TAC       sideboard
                                                                   1997 TAC                           limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BSAI.........................................................              n/a              n/a              n/a
Trawl gear CV:...............................................              n/a              n/a              n/a
    Jan 20-Apr 1.............................................           0.8609           20,156           17,352
    Apr 1-Jun 10.............................................           0.8609            2,996            2,579
    Jun 10-Nov 1.............................................           0.8609            4,086            3,518
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Section 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA catcher vessels from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2020
  and 2021 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access
  sector is greater than 125,000 mt.

    Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 15 that are caught by 
AFA CVs participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will 
accrue against the 2020 and 2021 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA CVs. 
Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to 
close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA CVs 
once a proposed 2020 and 2021 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 15 is 
reached. Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), 
halibut or crab PSC by AFA CVs while fishing for pollock in the BS will 
accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for the pollock/
Atka mackerel/``other species'' fishery categories under Sec.  
679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).

Table 15--Proposed 2020 and 2021 American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Prohibited Species Catch Sideboard Limits
                                                for the BSAI \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 Proposed 2020
                                                                 AFA catcher      and 2021 PSC    Proposed 2020
                                     Target fishery category      vessel PSC      limit after      and 2021 AFA
     PSC species and area \1\                  \2\             sideboard limit   subtraction of   catcher vessel
                                                                    ratio         PSQ reserves    PSC sideboard
                                                                                      \3\           limit \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut...........................  Pacific cod trawl........              n/a              n/a              887
                                    Pacific cod hook-and-line              n/a              n/a                2
                                     or pot.
                                    Yellowfin sole total.....              n/a              n/a              101
                                    Rock sole/flathead sole/               n/a              n/a              228
                                     other flatfish \4\.
                                    Greenland turbot/                      n/a              n/a  ...............
                                     arrowtooth flounder/
                                     Kamchatka flounder/
                                     sablefish.
                                    Rockfish.................              n/a              n/a                2
                                    Pollock/Atka mackerel/                 n/a              n/a                5
                                     other species \5\.
Red king crab Zone 1..............  n/a......................           0.2990           86,621           25,900
C. opilio COBLZ...................  n/a......................           0.1680        7,662,742        1,287,341
C. bairdi Zone 1..................  n/a......................           0.3300          875,140          288,796
C. bairdi Zone 2..................  n/a......................           0.1860        2,652,210          493,311
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ Target fishery categories are defined at Sec.   679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).
\3\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.
\4\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole,
  and yellowfin sole.
\5\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses.

Classification

    NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are 
consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed 
harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment.
    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866. This proposed rule is not an 
Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not 
significant under Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared an EIS for the Alaska groundfish harvest 
specifications and alternative harvest strategies and made it available 
to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, 
NMFS issued the ROD for the Final EIS. A SIR that assesses the need to 
prepare a Supplemental EIS is being prepared for the final 2020 and 
2021 harvest specifications. Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and annual 
SIRs for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final 
EIS analyzes the environmental, social, and economic consequences of 
the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest 
strategies on resources in the action area. Based on the analysis in 
the Final EIS, NMFS concluded that the preferred alternative 
(Alternative 2) provides the best balance

[[Page 66144]]

among relevant environmental, social, and economic considerations and 
allows for continued management of the groundfish fisheries based on 
the most recent, best scientific information.
    NMFS prepared an IRFA, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 603), analyzing the methodology for 
establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluated the economic impacts 
on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish 
fisheries in the exclusive economic zone off Alaska. As described in 
the methodology, TACs are set to a level that falls within the range of 
ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY 
specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology 
produces may vary from year to year, the methodology itself remains 
constant.
    A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, 
and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the 
preamble above. A copy of the IRFA is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows.
    The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the 
catch of groundfish in the BSAI. The preferred alternative (Alternative 
2) is the existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range 
of ABCs recommended by the SSC, but, as discussed below, NMFS also 
considered other alternatives. This action is taken in accordance with 
the FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The entities directly regulated by this action are those that 
harvest groundfish in the exclusive economic zone of the BSAI and in 
parallel fisheries within State waters. These include entities 
operating CVs and C/Ps within the action area and entities receiving 
direct allocations of groundfish.
    For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size 
standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary 
industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily 
engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified 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 gross receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its 
affiliated operations worldwide. In addition, under the RFA, the 
aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of a cooperative 
must meet the ``under $11 million'' threshold to be considered a small 
entity.
    The IRFA shows that, in 2018, the estimated number of directly 
regulated small entities include approximately 182 CVs, 3 C/Ps, and six 
CDQ groups. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock 
cooperatives, Gulf of Alaska rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI Crab 
Rationalization Program cooperatives, which are considered to be large 
entities within the meaning of the RFA because the aggregate gross 
receipts of all participating members exceed the $11 million threshold. 
Thus, the estimate of 182 CVs may be an overstatement of the number of 
small entities. Average gross revenues were $520,000 for small hook-
and-line vessels, $1.2 million for small pot vessels, and $2.6 million 
for small trawl vessels. The average gross revenue for C/Ps are not 
reported, due to confidentiality considerations.
    The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four 
other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate 
fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC 
were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the BSAI OY, in which 
case TACs would have been limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have 
set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year 
average fishing rates. Alternative 4 would have set TACs equal to the 
lower limit of the BSAI OY range. Alternative 5, the ``no action'' 
alternative, would have set TACs equal to zero.
    The TACs associated with Alternative 2, the preferred harvest 
strategy, are those recommended by the Council in October 2019. OFLs 
and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the 
Council's BSAI Groundfish Plan Team in September 2019, and reviewed and 
modified by the Council's SSC in October 2019. The Council based its 
TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the 
SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations.
    Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to 
harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were 
constrained by the upper bound of the BSAI OY of two million mt. As 
shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2020 and 2021 
would be 2,967,269 mt, which is above the upper bound of the OY range. 
Under Alternative 1, the sum of TACs is equal to the sum of ABCs. In 
this instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred 
alternative (Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and 
has small entity impacts that are equivalent to small entity impacts of 
the preferred alternative. However, NMFS cannot set TACs equal to the 
sum of ABCs in the BSAI due to the constraining OY limit of two million 
mt, which Alternative 1 would exceed.
    Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 
years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or based on 
the most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). 
This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action (as 
reflected in Alternative 2, the Council's preferred harvest strategy) 
because it does not take account of the most recent biological 
information for this fishery, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. 
NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock surveys for different species, as 
well as statistical modeling, to estimate stock sizes and permissible 
harvest levels. Actual harvest rates or harvest amounts are a component 
of these estimates, but in and of themselves harvest rates or harvest 
amounts may not accurately portray stock sizes and conditions. Harvest 
rates are listed for each species and species group for each year in 
the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES).
    Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all 
groundfish species and would reduce TACs from the upper end of the OY 
range in the BSAI to its lower end of 1.4 million mt. Overall, this 
would reduce 2020 TACs by about 30 percent, which would lead to 
significant reductions in harvests of species harvested by small 
entities. While reductions of this size would alter the supply, and, 
therefore, would be associated with offsetting price increases, the 
size of these associated price increases is uncertain. While production 
declines in the BSAI would undoubtedly be associated with price 
increases in the BSAI, these increases still would be constrained by 
production of substitutes, and are unlikely to completely offset 
revenue declines resulting from reductions in harvests of these species 
by small entities. Thus, this alternative would have a detrimental 
impact on small entities.
    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a 
significant adverse impact on small entities and would be contrary to 
the requirement for achieving OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Under Alternative 5, all individual CVs and 
C/Ps, as well as CDQ groups, impacted by this rule would have gross 
revenues of $0.
    The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the 
current 2020 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2020 and 2021, except for the 
decreases of the Pacific cod AI TAC to account for the State's AI 
Pacific cod GHL and a

[[Page 66145]]

corresponding increase in BS pollock TAC to ensure that the sum of the 
proposed TACs is within the OY of up to 2 million mt. As noted in the 
IRFA and this preamble, the Council may modify its recommendations for 
final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 2019, when it reviews the 
November 2019 SAFE report from its Plan Team, and the reports of the 
SSC and AP, at the 2019 December Council meeting. NMFS does not expect 
adverse impacts on small entities, because most of the TACs in these 
proposed 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 
2020 harvest specification TACs in the final 2019 and 2020 harvest 
specifications (84 FR 9000; March 13, 2019), and because the sum of all 
TACs remains within the upper limit of OY for the BSAI of 2.0 million 
mt. Also, NMFS does not expect any changes that might be made by the 
Council in December 2019 to be large enough to have an impact on small 
entities.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal 
rules.
    Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered or threatened 
species resulting from fishing activities conducted under these harvest 
specifications are discussed in the Final EIS and its accompanying 
annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES).

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 
1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105-277; Pub. L. 106-
31; Pub. L. 106-554; Pub. L. 108-199; Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 109-
241; Pub. L. 109-479.

    Dated: November 26, 2019.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-26090 Filed 12-2-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P