Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reclassifying Sculpin Species in the Groundfish Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska, 22703-22715 [2020-08145]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS EPA’s regulations. When reviewing SIP submissions, the EPA’s role is to approve state choices provided they meet the criteria of the CAA, and the applicable federal regulations pertaining to the specific submitted revision(s) being acted on. The EPA has reviewed the proposed changes to the Texas NSR regulations and preliminarily finds them to be consistent with CAA sections 110(a)(2)(C) and 110(l), and the EPA’s NSR regulations located at 40 CFR 51.160–51.164. III. Proposed Action The EPA has made the preliminary determination that the January 29, 2020, regulations proposed for adoption by the TCEQ, and submitted to the EPA for parallel processing on January 30, 2020, as proposed revisions to the Texas SIP and the State’s minor NSR permit rules, are in accordance with the CAA and the EPA’s regulations, policy, and guidance for NSR permitting. The EPA’s analysis indicates the proposed revisions to 30 TAC Section 116 satisfy the federal requirements for air pollution control permits and will not cause or contribute to an increase in the NAAQS; thus, will not interfere with attainment or reasonable further progress. Therefore, pursuant to section 110(l) of the CAA, the EPA proposes approval of the following revisions, proposed on January 29, 2020, and submitted by the TCEQ on January 30, 2020 with a request for parallel processing: • Revisions to 30 TAC Section 116.110 (except for Sections 116.110(a)(5), (c) and (d) that are not part of the Texas SIP); • Revisions to 30 TAC Section 116.116; • Addition of 30 TAC Section 116.118; • Revisions to 30 TAC Section 116.710; • Revisions to 30 TAC Section 116.721. Additionally, the EPA proposes a ministerial change to 40 CFR 52.2270(c) to clarify that 30 TAC Section 116.110 Subsections (d) change in ownership, (e) submittal under PE seal, and (f) responsibility for permit application were approved on November 14, 2003, and include their appropriate relettering to 30 TAC Subsections 116.110(e), (f), and (g), respectively, from the January 30, 2020, parallel processing request. The EPA is proposing this action in parallel with the state’s rulemaking process. We cannot take a final action until the State completes its rulemaking process, adopts its final regulations, and submits these final adopted regulations as revisions to the Texas SIP. If during VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 the response to comments process, the State rule is changed significantly from the proposed rule and the rule upon which the EPA proposed, the EPA may have to withdraw our initial proposed rule and re-propose based on the final SIP submittal. IV. Incorporation by Reference In this action, we are proposing to include in a final rule regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with the requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, we are proposing to incorporate by reference revisions to the Texas regulations as described in the Proposed Action section above. We have made, and will continue to make, these documents generally available electronically through www.regulations.gov (please contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this preamble for more information). V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the Act and applicable Federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, the EPA’s role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action merely proposes to approve state law as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action: • Is not a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011); • Is not an Executive Order 13771 (82 FR 9339, February 2, 2017) regulatory action because SIP approvals are exempted under Executive Order 12866; • Does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.); • Is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.); • Does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104–4); • Does not have federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999); PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 22703 • Is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997); • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001); • Is not subject to requirements of section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the CAA; and • Does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994). In addition, the SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the proposed rule does not have tribal implications and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000). List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52 Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Carbon monoxide, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Lead, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides, Volatile organic compounds. Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq. Dated: April 14, 2020. Kenley McQueen, Regional Administrator, Region 6. [FR Doc. 2020–08156 Filed 4–22–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 200413–0111] RIN 0648–BJ49 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reclassifying Sculpin Species in the Groundfish Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 23APP1 22704 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules Proposed rule; request for comments. ACTION: NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 121 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Management Area (BSAI FMP) and Amendment 110 to the FMP for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) (GOA FMP), collectively referred to as Amendments 121/110. If approved, this proposed rule would prohibit directed fishing for sculpins by federally permitted groundfish fishermen and specify a sculpin retention limit in the GOA and BSAI groundfish fisheries. This action is necessary to properly classify sculpins in the BSAI and GOA FMPs. This proposed rule is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), Amendments 121/110, the BSAI and GOA FMPs, and other applicable laws. DATES: Submit comments on or before May 26, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by FDMS Docket Number NOAA–NMFS–2020– 0004, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20200004, 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: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of the draft Environmental Assessment and the Regulatory Impact Review (collectively referred to as the ‘‘Analysis’’) prepared lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 for this proposed rule may be obtained from www.regulations.gov. Electronic copies of the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analyses for the BSAI and GOA Groundfish Harvest Specifications for 2020–2021 may be obtained from www.regulations.gov. Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this rule may be submitted by mail to NMFS at the above address; and by email to OIRA_ Submission@omb.eop.gov or by fax to 202–395–5806. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Megan Mackey, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Authority for Action NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the BSAI and GOA under the BSAI and GOA FMPs (the FMPs), respectively. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared the FMPs under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the BSAI and GOA FMPs appear at 50 CFR parts 600 and 679. This proposed rule would implement Amendments 121/110 to the BSAI and GOA FMPs, respectively. The Council submitted Amendments 121/110 for review by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), and a Notice of Availability (NOA) of Amendments 121/110 was published in the Federal Register on March 23, 2020, with comments invited through May 22, 2020. Comments submitted on this proposed rule by the end of the comment period (See DATES) will be considered by NMFS and addressed in the response to comments in the final rule. Comments submitted on this proposed rule may also address Amendments 121/110. However, all comments addressing Amendments 121/110 must be received by May 22, 2020 to be considered in the approval/ disapproval decision on Amendments 121/110. Commenters do not need to submit the same comments on both the NOA and this proposed rule. All relevant written comments received by May 22, 2020, whether specifically directed to the FMP amendments, this proposed rule, or both, will be considered by NMFS in the approval/ disapproval decision for Amendments 121/110 and addressed in the response to comments in the final rule. Background In October 2019, the Council voted to recommend Amendments 121/110 to PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 reclassify sculpins as non-target ecosystem component (EC) species, not in need of conservation and management. Sculpins are currently classified as target species in the FMPs, though as discussed below, sculpins are currently only caught incidental to other target fisheries. To implement amendments 121/110, NMFS proposes regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sculpins by federally permitted groundfish fishermen and to specify a sculpin retention limit in the GOA and BSAI groundfish fisheries. The following sections of this preamble provide (1) groundfish stock classification in the FMPs and a brief history of this proposed action; (2) the National Standards (NS) guidance for determining which species require conservation and management; (3) a description of Amendments 121/110; and (4) the regulatory changes made by this proposed rule. Stock Classification in FMPs and a Brief History of This Proposed Action Among other requirements, FMPs must comply with the MagnusonStevens Act NS (16 U.S.C. 1851). NMFS has implemented regulations to provide guidance on the interpretation and application of these NS. Relevant to this proposed rule, the NS guidelines at 50 CFR 600.305(d)(11), (12) and (13) define three classifications for stocks in an FMP: (1) Target stocks in need of conservation and management that fishers seek to catch; (2) non-target stocks in need of conservation and management that are caught incidentally during the pursuit of target stocks; and (3) EC species that do not require conservation and management, but may be listed in an FMP in order to achieve ecosystem management objectives. Under the groundfish FMPs, and harvest limit regulations at § 679.20, NMFS must establish an overfishing level (OFL), an acceptable biological catch (ABC) and a total allowable catch (TAC) for each stock or stock complex (i.e., species or species group) that is assigned a target or a non-target species category classification. Overfishing occurs when the amount of catch of a stock or stock complex jeopardizes the capacity of the stock or stock complex to produce the maximum sustainable yield on a continuing basis. NMFS manages fisheries in an effort to ensure that no OFLs are exceeded in any year. Regulations at §§ 679.20(d)(1) through (3) define the process NMFS uses to limit or prohibit fishing to prevent overfishing and maintain total catch at or below the OFL. The FMPs define the ABC as the level of a species or species E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 23APP1 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules group’s annual catch that accounts for the scientific uncertainty in the estimate of OFL and any other scientific uncertainty. Regulations at §§ 679.20(d)(1) and (2) describe the range of management measures that NMFS uses to maintain total catch at or below the ABC. The FMPs define the TAC as the annual catch target for a species or species group, derived from the ABC by considering social and economic factors and management uncertainty. The TAC must be set lower than or equal to the ABC. Regulations at §§ 679.20(d)(1) and (2) describe the range of management measures that NMFS uses to maintain total catch at or below the TAC. NMFS establishes the OFL, ABC, and TAC for each species or species group through the annual harvest specification process. For the most recent example of the annual harvest specifications, please see the proposed 2020/2021 annual harvest specifications (84 FR 66129, December 3, 2019 and 84 FR 66109, December 3, 2019). In 2010, Amendments 96/87 to the BSAI and GOA FMPs, respectively, established the EC category and designated prohibited species (salmon, steelhead trout, crab, halibut, and herring) and forage fish species (as defined in Table 2c to 50 CFR part 679 and § 679.20(i)) as EC species in the groundfish FMPs (75 FR 61639, October 6, 2010). Under Federal regulation at 50 CFR 600.310(d)(1), EC species are identified as non-target species for which catch specifications (i.e., an OFL, ABC, or TAC) are not required. For these EC species, NMFS maintained regulations that (1) prohibited directed fishing for forage fish, and (2) established a limit, known as the maximum retainable amount (MRA), on the amount of incidental harvest of forage fish while directed fishing for other groundfish species. Regulations at 50 CFR 679.2 define the term ‘‘directed fishing.’’ Regulations at § 679.20(e) describe the application and calculation of MRAs. In 2015, NMFS implemented Amendments 100/91 to the BSAI and GOA FMPs, respectively, to add grenadiers (family Macrouridae) to the EC category (80 FR 11897, March 5, 2015). The Council and NMFS added grenadiers to the FMPs in the EC category because grenadiers did not require conservation and management, but the Council acknowledged their role in the ecosystem and limited the groundfish fisheries’ potential impact on grenadiers. Adding grenadiers to the EC category allowed for improved data collection and catch monitoring appropriate for grenadiers given their VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 abundance, distribution, and catch. Additional detail is provided in the final rule implementing Amendments 100/91 (80 FR 11897, March 5, 2015). In 2018, NMFS implemented Amendments 117/106 to the BSAI and GOA FMPs, respectively, to add squid species to the EC category (83 FR 31460, July 6, 2018). The Council and NMFS moved squid from the target category in the FMPs to the EC category after making a determination that squid did not require conservation and management, but, similar to grenadiers, still acknowledged their role in the ecosystem and established an MRA to limit groundfish fisheries’ potential impact on squid. Recordkeeping and reporting requirements were retained to monitor bycatch of squid. Additional detail is provided in the final rule implementing Amendments 117/106 (83 FR 31460, July 6, 2018). Sculpins are currently classified as target species in the groundfish FMPs and directed fishing for sculpins is allowed. However, sculpins are not a target species for any groundfish fishery in the BSAI or GOA. Sculpins are only caught incidentally to other target groundfish species. Sculpins are incidentally caught primarily in the BSAI by vessels using trawl gear directed fishing for yellowfin sole, rock sole, and Atka mackerel, as well as by vessels directed fishing for Pacific cod with hook-and-line, pot, and trawl gear (Table 3–4 and Table 3–5 of the Analysis). Sculpins are caught primarily in the GOA by vessels in the Pacific cod and shallow-water flatfish directed fisheries, and IFQ halibut fisheries (Table 3–6 of the Analysis). For both the BSAI and GOA, sculpins are managed as a Tier 5 species, which is the least preferred method of specifying an overfishing limit when limited biological reference points are available. Only Tier 6 species, for which no biological reference points are available, are below Tier 5 in terms of limited information available. Nonetheless, specification of OFL for Tier 5 species reflects the best estimate possible for sculpins with the available data. As described in Section 3.2.3 of the Analysis, model estimates of sculpin abundance in the BSAI and GOA have been fairly stable over the years with no conservation concerns apparent. Stock assessments provide the scientific basis for determining whether a stock is experiencing overfishing (i.e., when a stock’s recent harvest rate exceeds sustainable levels) or overfished (i.e., already depleted), and for calculating a sustainable harvest rate and forecasting catches that correspond to that rate. For stocks in Tiers 4–6, no PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 22705 determination can be made of overfished status or approaching an overfished condition as information is insufficient to estimate the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) stock level. Therefore, it is not possible to determine whether the sculpin complex is overfished or whether it is approaching an overfished condition because it is managed under Tier 5. However, in the absence of directed fishing, they are very unlikely to be overfished. Sculpins, in general, are not retained. As noted in Section 3.2.2 of the Analysis, sculpin catch has been substantially below ABC and OFL, and has been a small proportion of the biomass each year. Determining Which Species Require Conservation and Management Section 302(h)(1) of the MagnusonStevens Act requires a council to prepare an FMP for each fishery under its authority that is in need of conservation and management. ‘‘Conservation and management’’ is defined in section 3(5) of the MagnusonStevens Act. The NS guidelines at § 600.305(c) (revised on October 18, 2016, 81 FR 718585) provide direction for determining which stocks will require conservation and management and provide direction to regional councils and NMFS for how to consider these factors in making this determination. Specifically, the guidelines direct regional councils and NMFS to consider a non-exhaustive list of ten factors when deciding whether stocks require conservation and management. Section 2.2.1 in the Analysis considers each of the 10 factors’ relevance to sculpins. The analysis shows that while sculpins are currently classified as a target species in the FMPs, there has been no directed fishing for sculpins since they were included in the FMPs. Sculpins are not important to commercial, recreational, or subsistence users, nor are they important to the National or regional economy. There are no developing fisheries for sculpins in the EEZ off Alaska nor in waters of the State of Alaska. Because there is no directed fishing and incidental fishing-related mortality is low, there is very little probability that sculpins will become overfished. Sculpins are very unlikely to be in need of rebuilding, and are not targeted as a major food product in Alaska. There are no conservation concerns for sculpins since they are not targeted, are rarely retained, and future uses of sculpins remain available. Maintaining sculpins as a target species in the BSAI and GOA FMPs is not likely to change stock condition. E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 23APP1 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS 22706 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules Amendments 121/110 In October of 2019, the Council recommended, and NMFS now proposes, Amendments 121/110 to reclassify sculpins as EC category species in the FMPs. Based on a review of the best available scientific information, and after considering NS guidelines, the Council and NMFS determined that sculpins are not in need of conservation and management, and that classifying sculpins in the EC category is an appropriate action. While the Council determined that sculpins are not in need of conservation and management as defined by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and after considering the revised NS guidelines, the Council and NMFS determined that there are benefits to retaining sculpins as an EC species complex in the FMPs because they are a component of the ecosystem as benthic predators. Amendments 121/110 would establish the sculpins EC species complex in the groundfish FMPs to clarify that they are non-target species and not in need of conservation and management. Recordkeeping and reporting requirements would be maintained to monitor the effects of incidental catch of sculpins in the groundfish fisheries. Amendments 121/ 110 would allow NMFS to prohibit directed fisheries for sculpins and limit the retention and commercial sale of sculpins. Commercial sale of retained sculpins would be allowed, subject to MRAs, only if the retained catch is processed into fishmeal, in accordance with current Federal regulations at § 679.20(i)(5). The limitation on processing and sale of EC species as anything other than fishmeal is status quo for all species moved to the EC; however, the Council is considering changing this limitation for squid and may also consider it for sculpin species to allow them to be processed and sold in other product forms, and that would be addressed with a subsequent action. By virtue of being classified as EC species, catch specifications for sculpins (i.e., OFLs, ABCs, and TACs) would no longer be required. Though the Council determined, and NMFS concurs, that sculpins are not in need of conservation and management, sculpin population status and bycatch should be monitored to continually assess vulnerability of sculpins to the groundfish fisheries. Therefore, the proposed rule retains recordkeeping and reporting requirements for sculpin bycatch. The proposed rule would prohibit directed fishing for sculpins to meet the intent of Amendments 121/110 that sculpins are not a target species VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 complex. Because the definition of directed fishing at § 679.2 is based on a MRA, the proposed rule would specify a retention limit for sculpins so that NMFS could implement the prohibition on directed fishing to meet the intent of Amendments 121/110. Proposed Rule In addition to classifying sculpins as an EC species in the FMPs under Amendments 121/110, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes regulations to limit and monitor the incidental catch of sculpins. This proposed rule would— • prohibit directed fishing for sculpins in the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries; • maintain recordkeeping and reporting of sculpins in the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries, but modify the regulations for clarity; and • specify a sculpins retention limit, or MRA, of 20 percent in the BSAI and GOA Federal groundfish fisheries. To prohibit directed fishing, this proposed rule would revise §§ 679.20(i) and 679.22(i) to prohibit directed fishing for sculpins at all times in the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries. This prohibition is consistent with the regulations and management approach for other EC species. NMFS prohibits directed fishing for forage fish, grenadiers, and squids. To clarify definitions, this proposed rule would add a definition for sculpins at § 679.2. Recordkeeping and reporting requirements at § 679.5 would not be modified by this proposed rule and would continue to require a vessel operator or manager in a BSAI or GOA groundfish fishery to record and report retained and discarded sculpins in logbooks, landing reports, and production reports. However, this proposed rule would clarify the recordkeeping and reporting requirements by adding an instruction to § 679.5 to use the sculpin species code in Table 2c to 50 CFR part 679 (Table 2c) to record and report sculpin catch. Table 2c lists the species reporting codes for non-target EC groundfish FMP species. NMFS would modify Table 2c to add one sculpin species code and remove the existing sculpin species code from Table 2a to 50 CFR part 679 (species reporting codes for target groundfish FMP species) because sculpins would be removed as a target species in the groundfish FMPs. These revisions would maintain NMFS’ ability to monitor the catch, retention, and discard of sculpins. Section 679.20 provides the general limitations for the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries. Because a TAC PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 would no longer be specified for sculpins, this proposed rule would remove sculpins from § 679.20(b)(2), which specifies the amount of the TAC that is reserved for inseason management flexibility. The MRA is the proportion or percentage of retained catch of a species closed for directed fishing (incidental catch species) to the retained catch of a species open for directed fishing (basis species). This proposed rule would move sculpins out of the basis species category and into the incidental catch species category consistent with the prohibition on directed fishing for sculpins under this proposed rule. In the GOA, sculpins are included in the ‘‘other species’’ category (along with octopuses and sharks) for MRA purposes under the existing regulations. To specify a separate MRA for sculpins in the GOA, this proposed rule would remove sculpins from footnote 6, ‘‘other species’’ in Table 10 to 50 CFR part 679 and add sculpins as an incidental catch species with an MRA of 20 percent. This proposed rule would similarly revise Table 11 to 50 CFR part 679 to remove sculpins as a basis species in the BSAI and add sculpins to footnote 7 to indicate that forage fish, grenadiers, squids, and sculpins are all defined in Table 2c. In developing this proposed rule, the Council and NMFS considered a range of sculpins MRA percentages: 2 percent, 10 percent, and 20 percent. Sculpins, in general, are not retained, and fishery observer data indicate that the retention rate has been below 10 percent in the BSAI and below 20 percent in the GOA. The Analysis (Table 3–7) shows that since 2013, the retention rate has been below 5 percent in both the BSAI and GOA. Table 3–8 in the Analysis shows the low percentage of retained sculpins compared to the total retained groundfish. In the BSAI, the proportion of retained sculpins relative to retained groundfish ranges from a low of 0.00 percent to a high of 0.02 percent. In the GOA, the percent of retained sculpins relative to groundfish ranges from a low of 0.00 percent to a high of 0.04 percent. As noted in Section 3.2.2 of the Analysis, sculpin catch has been substantially below ABC and OFL, and has been a small proportion of the biomass each year. Section 2.3.1 of the Analysis discusses the rationale for selecting an MRA of 20 percent. A MRA of 20 percent relative to all basis species discourages targeting of sculpins and minimizes regulatory discards. Because there are no conservation concerns for sculpins and retention of sculpins has been low, a lower MRA would not further discourage targeting, but may E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 23APP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules result in increased regulatory discards of sculpins. Therefore, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes specifying a MRA for sculpins of 20 percent in both the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries. Classification Pursuant to sections 304(b)(1)(A) and 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendments 121/110, other provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment period. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive Order 12866. This proposed rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866. Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) An RIR was prepared to assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). NMFS is recommending Amendments 121/110 and the regulatory revisions in this proposed rule based on those measures that maximized net benefits to the Nation. Specific aspects of the economic analysis are discussed below in the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis section. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) This IRFA was prepared for this proposed rule, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 603), to describe the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. An IRFA describes why this action is being proposed; the objectives and legal basis for the proposed rule; the number of small entities to which the proposed rule would apply; any projected reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements of the proposed rule; any overlapping, duplicative, or conflicting Federal rules; and any significant alternatives to the proposed rule that would accomplish the stated objectives, consistent with applicable statutes, and that would minimize any significant adverse economic impacts of the proposed rule on small entities. Descriptions of this proposed rule, its purpose, and the legal basis are contained earlier in this preamble and are not repeated here. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by This Proposed Rule This proposed rule would directly regulate any vessel operator harvesting sculpins in the federally managed groundfish fisheries in the BSAI and GOA. The thresholds applied to determine if an entity or group of entities are ‘‘small’’ under the RFA depend on the industry classification for the entity or entities. Businesses classified as primarily engaged in commercial fishing are considered small entities if they have combined annual gross receipts not in excess of $11.0 million for all affiliated operations worldwide (50 CFR 200.2). The most recent estimates of the number of fishing vessels participating in the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries that are small entities are provided in Table 2 in the IRFAs for the BSAI and GOA Harvest Specifications for 2020–2021 (see ADDRESSES). In 2018, there were 182 catcher vessels and 3 catcher/processors in the BSAI, and 756 catcher vessels and 3 catcher/processors in the GOA. These estimates likely overstate the number of small entities in the groundfish fisheries off Alaska because some of these vessels are affiliated through common ownership or membership in a cooperative and the affiliated vessels together would exceed the $11.0 million annual gross receipts threshold for small entities. For operators of vessels currently participating in these fisheries, the economic impacts of this proposed rule are primarily beneficial or neutral. Removing sculpins from the BSAI target species category would remove the sculpins TAC from inclusion in the 2 million metric ton optimum yield (OY) cap in the BSAI. The amount of the OY cap that has been reserved for sculpins would be available to increase the TAC limit or limits for other BSAI target species. This effect would benefit participants in the BSAI fisheries that experience TAC increases relative to what the TACs would have been without this proposed rule. Some of the entities that experience benefits from increased TACs in the future may be small entities. The effects on target species TACs would be neutral for the GOA fisheries, as the OY has not constrained TACs in the GOA to date. Therefore, removing the sculpins TAC in the GOA will not allow for an increase in the TAC for another target species. The only potential adverse economic impact that has been identified for this proposed rule is that vessel owners or operators who may wish to conduct PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 22707 directed fishing for sculpins in the future, and who would wish to retain more sculpins than they would be allowed to retain under the 20 percent MRA, would not be able to do so. This potential adverse impact would not affect any current participants relative to opportunities available to them because there has been no directed fishing for sculpins. Therefore, no current participants would lose an economic opportunity that is available to them today or has been available to them. Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Other Compliance Requirements Under this proposed rule, requirements for recording and reporting the catch and discard of sculpins in logbooks or on catch or production reports will be maintained as they are in existing regulations. The proposed rule would make only minor modifications to clarify the recordkeeping and reporting requirements in § 679.5, Table 2a to 50 CFR part 679, and Table 2c to 50 CFR part 679. Therefore, moving sculpins from the target species category to the EC category will not change recordkeeping and reporting costs for fishery participants or impose any additional or new costs on participants. Duplicate, Overlapping, or Conflicting Federal Rules No duplication, overlap, or conflict between this proposed rule and existing Federal rules has been identified. Description of Significant Alternatives That Minimize Adverse Impacts on Small Entities The Council and NMFS considered two alternatives. Among the two alternatives, Alternative 2 Option 3 (the preferred alternative) provides the most economic benefits to current participants in the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries. The primary economic benefit of this proposed rule is to reduce the potential constraints imposed by the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for sculpins on BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries. Among the three options considered for the sculpins MRA (2 percent, 10 percent, and 20 percent), the 20 percent MRA that was selected minimizes the economic impact on any fishing vessel that is a small entity because it provides the greatest opportunity to retain sculpins as incidental catch in other groundfish fisheries. Alternative 1 is the no action alternative and would continue to classify sculpins as target species in the groundfish FMPs. OFLs, ABCs, and E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 23APP1 22708 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS TACs would continue to be set for sculpins as a species group in both the BSAI and GOA. Relative to Alternative 2, Alternative 1 could be considered less beneficial to small entities because all catch specifications would need to be maintained, and current constraints on the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries would continue. However, Alternative 2 (the preferred alternative) also could be considered more restrictive to small entities than Alternative 1 if the prohibition on directed fishing for sculpins under the proposed rule limits future participants’ ability to conduct directed fishing for sculpins more so than would occur under the status quo. Alternative 1 allows NMFS to determine annually whether to open a directed fishery for sculpins. Alternative 2 would classify sculpins in the BSAI and GOA in the EC category and implement a regulation prohibiting directed fishing for sculpins that could only be revised through subsequent rulemaking. However, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes that the benefits of the proposed rule to current fishery participants, including small entities, outweigh the potential future adverse impacts of the prohibition against directed fishing for sculpins. In addition, this provision can be re-evaluated by the Council and NMFS in the future if fishery participants want to develop directed fisheries for sculpins. Collection-of-Information Requirements This proposed rule contains a collection-of-information requirement subject to review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). This requirement has been submitted to OMB for approval under OMB Control Numbers 0648–0213 and 0648–0515. This proposed rule would make minor revisions to the information collection requirements to clarify the location of the species code for sculpins in the tables to 50 CFR part 679 to note that sculpins should be reported as nontarget EC species rather than target species. The requirements for recording and reporting the catch and discard of sculpins in logbooks or on catch or production reports will not change. These minor revisions do not change the public reporting burden or costs. Public comment is sought regarding whether this proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate, ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on these or any other aspects of the collection of information to NMFS Alaska Region (see ADDRESSES), by email to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov, or by fax to (202) 395– 5806. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number. All currently approved NOAA collections of information may be viewed at http://www.reginfo.gov/ public/do/PRASearch#. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679 Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: April 14, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs National Marine Fisheries Service. For reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 679 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 679—FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA 1. The authority citation for part 679 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 111–281. 2. In § 679.2, add a definition for ‘‘Sculpins’’ in alphabetical order to read as follows: ■ § 679.2 Definitions. * * * * * Sculpins (see Table 2c to this part and § 679.20(i)). * * * * * ■ 3. In § 679.5, revise paragraph (a)(3) introductory text, and paragraphs (c)(3)(vi)(F), and (c)(4)(vi)(E) to read as follows: § 679.5 (R&R). Recordkeeping and reporting (a) * * * (3) Fish to be recorded and reported. The operator or manager must record and report the following information (see paragraphs (a)(3)(i) through (iv) of this section) for all groundfish (see Table 2a to this part), prohibited species PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (see Table 2b to this part), forage fish (see Table 2c to this part), grenadiers (see Table 2c to this part), squids (see Table 2c to this part), and sculpins (see Table 2c to this part). The operator or manager may record and report the following information (see paragraphs (a)(3)(i) through (iv) of this section) for non-groundfish (see Table 2d to this part): * * * * * (c) * * * (3) * * * (vi) * * * (F) Species codes. The operator must record and report required information for all groundfish (see Table 2a to this part), prohibited species (see Table 2b to this part), forage fish (see Table 2c to this part), grenadiers (see Table 2c to this part), squids (see Table 2c to this part), and sculpins (see Table 2c to this part). The operator may record and report information for non-groundfish (see Table 2d to this part). * * * * * (4) * * * (vi) * * * (E) Species codes. The operator must record and report required information for all groundfish (see Table 2a to this part), prohibited species (see Table 2b to this part), forage fish (see Table 2c to this part), grenadiers (see Table 2c to this part), squids (see Table 2c to this part), and sculpins (see Table 2c to this part). The operator may record and report information for non-groundfish (see Table 2d to this part). * * * * * ■ 4. In § 679.20, revise paragraph (b)(2) introductory text, paragraph (i) heading, and paragraphs (i)(3) through (5) to read as follows: § 679.20 General limitations. * * * * * (b) * * * (2) GOA. Initial reserves are established for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, octopuses, and sharks, which are equal to 20 percent of the TACs for these species or species groups. * * * * * (i) Forage fish, grenadiers, squids, and sculpins. * * * * * (3) Closure to directed fishing. Directed fishing for forage fish, grenadiers, squids, and sculpins is prohibited at all times in the BSAI and GOA. (4) Limits on sale, barter, trade, and processing. The sale, barter, trade, or processing of forage fish, grenadiers, squids, and sculpins is prohibited, except as provided in paragraph (i)(5) of this section. E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 23APP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules (5) Allowable fishmeal production. Retained catch of forage fish, grenadiers, squids, or sculpins not exceeding the maximum retainable amount may be processed into fishmeal for sale, barter, or trade. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 679.22, revise paragraph (i) to read as follows: § 679.22 22709 Closures. * * * * * (i) Forage fish, grenadiers, squids, and sculpins closures. See § 679.20(i)(3). ■ 6. Revise Table 2a to part 679 to read as follows: TABLE 2a TO PART 679—SPECIES CODES: FMP GROUNDFISH lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Species description Code Atka mackerel (greenling) .......................................................................................................................................................................... Flatfish, miscellaneous (flatfish species without separate codes) ............................................................................................................ FLOUNDER: Alaska plaice ...................................................................................................................................................................................... Arrowtooth .......................................................................................................................................................................................... Bering ................................................................................................................................................................................................. Kamchatka .......................................................................................................................................................................................... Starry .................................................................................................................................................................................................. Octopuses .................................................................................................................................................................................................. Pacific cod ................................................................................................................................................................................................. Pollock ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... ROCKFISH: Aurora (Sebastes aurora) ................................................................................................................................................................... Black (BSAI) (S. melanops) ............................................................................................................................................................... Blackgill (S. melanostomus) ............................................................................................................................................................... Blue (BSAI) (S. mystinus) .................................................................................................................................................................. Bocaccio (S. paucispinis) ................................................................................................................................................................... Canary (S. pinniger) ........................................................................................................................................................................... Chilipepper (S. goodei) ....................................................................................................................................................................... China (S. nebulosus) .......................................................................................................................................................................... Copper (S. caurinus) .......................................................................................................................................................................... Darkblotched (S. crameri) .................................................................................................................................................................. Dusky (S. variabilis) ............................................................................................................................................................................ Greenstriped (S. elongatus) ............................................................................................................................................................... Harlequin (S. variegatus) .................................................................................................................................................................... Northern (S. polyspinis) ...................................................................................................................................................................... Pacific Ocean Perch (S. alutus) ......................................................................................................................................................... Pygmy (S. wilsoni) .............................................................................................................................................................................. Quillback (S. maliger) ......................................................................................................................................................................... Redbanded (S. babcocki) ................................................................................................................................................................... Redstripe (S. proriger) ........................................................................................................................................................................ Rosethorn (S. helvomaculatus) .......................................................................................................................................................... Rougheye (S. aleutianus) ................................................................................................................................................................... Sharpchin (S. zacentrus) .................................................................................................................................................................... Shortbelly (S. jordani) ......................................................................................................................................................................... Shortraker (S. borealis) ...................................................................................................................................................................... Silvergray (S. brevispinis) ................................................................................................................................................................... Splitnose (S. diploproa) ...................................................................................................................................................................... Stripetail (S. saxicola) ......................................................................................................................................................................... Thornyhead (all Sebastolobus species) ............................................................................................................................................. Tiger (S. nigrocinctus) ........................................................................................................................................................................ Vermilion (S. miniatus) ....................................................................................................................................................................... Widow (S. entomelas) ........................................................................................................................................................................ Yelloweye (S. ruberrimus) .................................................................................................................................................................. Yellowmouth (S. reedi) ....................................................................................................................................................................... Yellowtail (S. flavidus) ........................................................................................................................................................................ Sablefish (blackcod) .................................................................................................................................................................................. SHARKS: Other (if salmon, spiny dogfish or Pacific sleeper shark—use specific species code) ..................................................................... Pacific sleeper .................................................................................................................................................................................... Salmon ................................................................................................................................................................................................ Spiny dogfish ...................................................................................................................................................................................... SKATES: Alaska (Bathyraja parmifera) .............................................................................................................................................................. Aleutian (B. aleutica) .......................................................................................................................................................................... Whiteblotched (B. maculate) .............................................................................................................................................................. Big (Raja binoculata) .......................................................................................................................................................................... Longnose (R. rhina) ............................................................................................................................................................................ Other (if Alaska, Aleutian, whiteblotched, big, or longnose skate—use specific species code) ....................................................... SOLE: Butter .................................................................................................................................................................................................. Dover .................................................................................................................................................................................................. English ................................................................................................................................................................................................ Flathead .............................................................................................................................................................................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 23APP1 193 120 133 121 116 117 129 870 110 270 185 142 177 167 137 146 178 149 138 159 172 135 176 136 141 179 147 153 158 150 151 166 181 152 157 182 183 143 148 184 156 145 175 155 710 689 692 690 691 703 704 705 702 701 700 126 124 128 122 22710 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules TABLE 2a TO PART 679—SPECIES CODES: FMP GROUNDFISH—Continued Species description Code Petrale ................................................................................................................................................................................................ Rex ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... Rock .................................................................................................................................................................................................... Sand ................................................................................................................................................................................................... Yellowfin ............................................................................................................................................................................................. Turbot, Greenland .............................................................................................................................................................................. 131 125 123 132 127 134 7. Revise Table 2c to part 679 to read as follows: ■ TABLE 2c TO PART 679—SPECIES CODES: FMP FORAGE FISH SPECIES (ALL SPECIES OF THE FOLLOWING FAMILIES), GRENADIER SPECIES, SQUIDS, AND SCULPINS Species identification Code FORAGE FISH: Bristlemouths, lightfishes, and anglemouths (family Gonostomatidae) ............................................................................................. Capelin smelt (family Osmeridae) ...................................................................................................................................................... Deep-sea smelts (family Bathylagidae) .............................................................................................................................................. Eulachon smelt (family Osmeridae) ................................................................................................................................................... Gunnels (family Pholidae) .................................................................................................................................................................. Krill (order Euphausiacea) .................................................................................................................................................................. Lanternfishes (family Myctophidae) .................................................................................................................................................... Pacific Sand fish (family Trichodontidae) ........................................................................................................................................... Pacific Sand lance (family Ammodytidae) .......................................................................................................................................... Pricklebacks, war-bonnets, eelblennys, cockscombs and Shannys (family Stichaeidae) ................................................................. Surf smelt (family Osmeridae) ............................................................................................................................................................ GRENADIERS:. Giant Grenadiers (Albatrossia pectoralis) .............................................................................................................................................. Other Grenadiers ................................................................................................................................................................................... SQUID: Squids ................................................................................................................................................................................................. SCULPINS: Sculpins .............................................................................................................................................................................................. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P 8. Revise Table 10 to part 679 to read as follows: lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:30 Apr 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 23APP1 209 516 773 511 207 800 772 206 774 208 515 214 213 875 160 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS VerDate Sep<11>2014 Jkt 250001 BASIS SPECIES PO 00000 Code Species Pollock Pacific cod DW Flat INCIDENTAL CATCH SPECIES (for DSR caught on catcher vessels in the SEO, see§ 679.20 C)6) DSR Grenadiers Squids Sculpins k<\ggregated (12) SW SR/RE SEO Skates Other forugc Flat.head ArrowAtka k<\ggrcgatcd (10) Flat Sablefish ERA (C/Ps species fish( 9) rockfish(?) sole tooth mackerel (!) (3) (6) only) Frm 00048 (2) Rex sole 20 20 20 n/a 20 20 n/a 20 20 20 20 20 35 11/a 35 35 1 1 7 7 5 5 15 15 (!) (5) 110 121 122 125 136 Fmt 4702 141 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 143 152/ 151 193 270 710 Wacific cod k\1To\vtooth [Flathead sole Rex sole ~orlhcm ockfish Pacific ocean perch trhomyhead Shortraker/ ougheve <1.1 ~tka mackerel ~ollock Sahlefish eJatfish, deep-water<21 23APP1 ,Jatfish, shallowwater<3l Rockfish olhi..-r Vil )ush.-y 172 ockfish Rockfish, DSR-SEO <5l Skates< 10 J Other species <6J Aggregated amount of non-groundfish speciesO11 2 2 2 2 5 5 5 5 20 20 20 20 8 20 20 8 1 1 20 20 20 20 7 1 20 2 5 20 8 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 15 7 1 20 2 5 20 8 20 20 7 15 7 1 20 2 5 20 8 35 7 15 n/a 1 20 2 5 20 8 20 20 20 20 35 35 35 1 1 (1) n/a 20 7 1 20 2 2 2 5 5 5 20 20 20 8 (!) 10 10 n/a 5 5 15 20 35 7 15 7 1 20 2 5 20 8 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 n/a 35 I 5 (!) 10 20 2 5 20 8 20 20 20 20 20 35 7 15 7 I 20 2 5 20 8 20 20 20 20 35 7 15 7 1 20 2 5 20 8 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 35 35 35 7 I 1 15 5 5 5 n/a 5 20 20 n/a 8 8 8 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 35 1 5 5 20 8 20 5 20 20 n/a<9l 5 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 35 7 15 20 20 20 20 20 20 35 7 20 20 20 20 20 20 35 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 n/a 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 n/a 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 0 7 7 10 0 7 n/a 20 (!) 10 20 (!) 10 20 2 2 2 (!) 10 20 2 20 8 8 8 8 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 Table 10 to Part 679-Gulf of Alaska Retainable Percentages. 22711 EP23AP20.011</GPH> lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS 22712 VerDate Sep<11>2014 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM Demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) 6 7 Other species Aggregated rockfish 8 n/a 23APP1 5 EP23AP20.012</GPH> S. pinniuer (canarv)(l46) S. maliuer (quillback)(l47) S. ruberrimus (velloweve)(l45) S. nebulosus (china)(l49) S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn)(l50) S. caurinus (eonner)(l38) S. nizrocinctus (tiger)(l48) DSR-SEO = Demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District (SEO). Catcher vessels in the SEO have full retention of DSR (see § 679.20(i)). Octopuses (870) I Sharks (689) Aggregated rockfish (see§ 679.2) means any species of the genera Sebastes or Sebastolobus except Sebastes ciliates (dark rockfish), Sebastes melanops (black rockfish), and Sebastes mystinus (blue rockfish), except in: Southeast Outside District where DSR is a separate species group for those species marked with an MRA Eastern Regulatory Area where SR/RE is a separate species group for those species marked with an MRA Not applicable Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 Notes to Table 10 to Part 679 Shortraker/rougheve rockfish 1 Sebastes borealis (shortraker) (152) SR/RE S. aleutianus (rougheye) (151) SR/REERA Shortraker/rougheve rockfish in the Eastern Remtlatorv Area (ERA). Where an MRA is not indicated, use the MRA for SR/RE included under Aggregated Rockfish 2 Deep-water flatfish Dover sole (124), Greenland turbot (134), Kamchatka flounder (117), and deep-sea sole 3 Shallow-water Flatfish not including deep-water flatfish, flathead sole (122), rex sole (125), or arro"1ooth flounder (121) flatfish 4 Other rockfish Western Regulatory Area means other rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish Central Regulatory Arca West Yakutat District Southeast Outside District means other rockfish Other rockfish S. aurora (aurora) (185) S. varie,zates (harlequin)(l 76) S. brevispinis (silvemrev)(l57) S. wilsoni (pygmy)(l79) S. diploproa (splitnose)(l82) S. melanostomus (blackgill)(l 77) S. saxicola (stripetail)(l83) S. paucispinis S. babcocki (redbanded)(l53) (bocaccio )(137) S. miniatus (vermilion)(l84) S. goodei S. proriger (redstripe)(l58) (chilipeooer)(l 78) S. zacentrus (sharpchin)(l66) S. crameri S. reedi (yellowmouth)(l75) (darkblotch)(l59) S. elongatus S. jordani (shortbelly)(l81) (greenstriped)(l 35) S. entomelas (widow)(l56) S. tlavidus (vellowtail)(l55) In the Eastern Remtlatory Area only, Other rockfish also includes S. polvspinis (northern)(l36) lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS VerDate Sep<11>2014 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 23APP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 Notes to Table 10 to Part 679 Bristlemouths, lightfishes, and aneJemouths (family Gonostomatidae) 9 Aggregated forage 209 fish (all species of Caoelin smelt (family Osmeridae) 516 the following taxa) Deeo-sea smelts (familv BathylaRidae) 773 Eulachon smelt (family Osmeridae) 511 Gunnels (family Pholidae) 207 Krill (order Euphausiacea) 800 772 Latemlishes (familv Mvctovhidae) Pacific Sand fish (family Trichodontidae) 206 Pacific Sand lance (familv Ammodvtidae) 774 Pricklebacks, war-bonnets, eelblennys, cockscombs and shannys (family 208 Stichaeidae) Surf smelt (family Osmeridae) 515 Alaska (Bathvraia. Parmifera) 10 Skates Species and 703 Groups 704 Aleutian (B. aleutica) Whiteblotched (Raja binoculata) 705 Big Skates (Raja binoculata) 702 Loill!llOse Skates (R. rhina) 701 700 Other Skates (Rathvraia andRaia sDD.) 11 Aggregated nonAll legally retained species of fish and shellfish, including IFQ halibut, that are not listed as FMP groundfish in Tables 2a and 2c to this part. groundfish 12 Grenadiers Giant grenadiers (Alhatrossia pectoralis) 214 Other e:renadiers (all e:renadiers that are not Giant e:renadiers) 213 22713 EP23AP20.013</GPH> lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Species Pollock Pacific cod Atka mackerel Alaska plaice Arrow- tooth Kamchatka Other flatfis h' Rock sole Flathead sole Green- land turbot Sablefish' Shottraker/ roughcyc Aggre-gated Squids rockfish6 Aggregated forage fish' Gren~diers Sculpins Other species1 20 na · 20 20 35 35 20 20 20 20 1 1 2 5 20 2 20 8 20 / \IT()WlO()th 20 20 20 20 na 20 20 20 20 20 7 1 2 5 20 2 1 8 20 20 117 Kamchatka 20 20 20 20 20 na 20 20 20 20 7 1 2 5 20 2 1 8 122 Flathead sole 20 20 20 35 35 35 35 35 35 na 35 15 7 15 20 2 20 8 123 Rock sole 20 20 20 35 35 35 35 35 na 35 1 1 2 15 20 2 20 8 Fmt 4702 Pacific cod 121 Frm 00051 PO 00000 110 113 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 23APP1 EP23AP20.014</GPH> 127 Yellowfin sole Alaska Plaice 20 20 20 20 20 20 35 35 35 na 35 35 35 1 1 2 5 20 2 20 8 20 20 20 na 35 35 35 35 35 35 1 1 2 5 20 2 20 8 20 20 134 Greenland turbot 20 20 20 20 35 35 20 20 20 20 na 15 7 15 20 2 20 8 136 Northcm 20 20 20 20 35 35 20 20 20 20 35 15 7 15 20 2 20 8 20 20 20 20 20 35 35 20 20 20 20 35 15 7 15 20 2 20 8 20 20 20 20 20 35 35 20 20 20 20 35 15 na 5 20 2 20 8 20 20 20 na 20 35 35 20 20 20 20 l I 2 5 20 2 20 8 141 152 i 151 193 Pacific Ocean perch Shortraker/ Rough eye Atka mackerel 20 270 Pollock na 20 20 20 35 35 20 20 20 20 1 1 2 5 20 2 20 8 20 710 Sablefish 1 20 20 20 20 35 35 20 20 20 20 35 na 7 15 20 2 20 8 20 20 20 20 35 35 35 3S na 3S 3S 1 1 2 5 20 2 20 8 20 Other rockfish' 20 20 20 20 35 35 20 20 20 20 35 15 7 15 20 2 20 8 20 Other spccics 4 20 20 20 20 35 35 20 20 20 20 1 1 2 5 20 2 na 8 20 Aggregated amount non-grotmd:fish species 8 20 20 20 20 35 35 20 20 20 20 1 1 2 5 20 2 20 8 Other tlatfish 2 20 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules Jkt 250001 tode Yellow fin sole 22714 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 ll\C]J)El\TAT, CATCH SPECIES BASIS SPECIES 9. Revise Table 11 to part 679 to read as follows: ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 Table 11 to Part 679----BSAI Retainable Percentages. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with PROPOSALS PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\23APP1.SGM 23APP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules Jkt 250001 [FR Doc. 2020–08145 Filed 4–22–20; 8:45 am] 18:46 Apr 22, 2020 BILLING CODE 3510–22–C VerDate Sep<11>2014 SablefISh: for fixed gear restrictions, see § 679. 7(f)(3)(ii) and (f)(ll ). Other flatfish includes all flatfish species, except for Pacific halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder and Kamchatka flounder. 3 Other rocldish includes all "rockfish" as defined at§ 679.2, except for Pacific ocean perch; and northern, shortraker, and rougheye rockfish. 4 The Other species includes sharks, skates, and octopuses. 5 na = not applicable 6 Aggregated rocldish includes all "rockfish" as defined at§ 679.2, except shortraker and rougheye rockfish. 7 Forage fish, grenadiers, squids, and sculpins are all defined at Table 2c to this part. 8 All legally retained species offish and shellfish, including CDQ halibut and IFQ halibut that are not listed as FMP groundfish in Tables 2a and 2c to this part. 1 2 22715 EP23AP20.015</GPH>

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 79 (Thursday, April 23, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 22703-22715]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-08145]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 200413-0111]
RIN 0648-BJ49


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; 
Reclassifying Sculpin Species in the Groundfish Fisheries of the Bering 
Sea and Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska

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

[[Page 22704]]


ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 121 to the 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Management Area (BSAI FMP) and Amendment 110 to 
the FMP for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) (GOA FMP), 
collectively referred to as Amendments 121/110. If approved, this 
proposed rule would prohibit directed fishing for sculpins by federally 
permitted groundfish fishermen and specify a sculpin retention limit in 
the GOA and BSAI groundfish fisheries. This action is necessary to 
properly classify sculpins in the BSAI and GOA FMPs. This proposed rule 
is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 
Amendments 121/110, the BSAI and GOA FMPs, and other applicable laws.

DATES: Submit comments on or before May 26, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by FDMS 
Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2020-0004, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0004, 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: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, 
or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter 
``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
    Electronic copies of the draft Environmental Assessment and the 
Regulatory Impact Review (collectively referred to as the ``Analysis'') 
prepared for this proposed rule may be obtained from 
www.regulations.gov.
    Electronic copies of the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analyses 
for the BSAI and GOA Groundfish Harvest Specifications for 2020-2021 
may be obtained from www.regulations.gov.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
rule may be submitted by mail to NMFS at the above address; and by 
email to [email protected] or by fax to 202-395-5806.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Megan Mackey, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Authority for Action

    NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic 
zone (EEZ) of the BSAI and GOA under the BSAI and GOA FMPs (the FMPs), 
respectively. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) 
prepared the FMPs under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 
U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and 
implementing the BSAI and GOA FMPs appear at 50 CFR parts 600 and 679.
    This proposed rule would implement Amendments 121/110 to the BSAI 
and GOA FMPs, respectively. The Council submitted Amendments 121/110 
for review by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), and a Notice of 
Availability (NOA) of Amendments 121/110 was published in the Federal 
Register on March 23, 2020, with comments invited through May 22, 2020. 
Comments submitted on this proposed rule by the end of the comment 
period (See DATES) will be considered by NMFS and addressed in the 
response to comments in the final rule. Comments submitted on this 
proposed rule may also address Amendments 121/110. However, all 
comments addressing Amendments 121/110 must be received by May 22, 2020 
to be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on Amendments 
121/110. Commenters do not need to submit the same comments on both the 
NOA and this proposed rule. All relevant written comments received by 
May 22, 2020, whether specifically directed to the FMP amendments, this 
proposed rule, or both, will be considered by NMFS in the approval/
disapproval decision for Amendments 121/110 and addressed in the 
response to comments in the final rule.

Background

    In October 2019, the Council voted to recommend Amendments 121/110 
to reclassify sculpins as non-target ecosystem component (EC) species, 
not in need of conservation and management. Sculpins are currently 
classified as target species in the FMPs, though as discussed below, 
sculpins are currently only caught incidental to other target 
fisheries. To implement amendments 121/110, NMFS proposes regulations 
to prohibit directed fishing for sculpins by federally permitted 
groundfish fishermen and to specify a sculpin retention limit in the 
GOA and BSAI groundfish fisheries. The following sections of this 
preamble provide (1) groundfish stock classification in the FMPs and a 
brief history of this proposed action; (2) the National Standards (NS) 
guidance for determining which species require conservation and 
management; (3) a description of Amendments 121/110; and (4) the 
regulatory changes made by this proposed rule.

Stock Classification in FMPs and a Brief History of This Proposed 
Action

    Among other requirements, FMPs must comply with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act NS (16 U.S.C. 1851). NMFS has implemented regulations to 
provide guidance on the interpretation and application of these NS. 
Relevant to this proposed rule, the NS guidelines at 50 CFR 
600.305(d)(11), (12) and (13) define three classifications for stocks 
in an FMP: (1) Target stocks in need of conservation and management 
that fishers seek to catch; (2) non-target stocks in need of 
conservation and management that are caught incidentally during the 
pursuit of target stocks; and (3) EC species that do not require 
conservation and management, but may be listed in an FMP in order to 
achieve ecosystem management objectives.
    Under the groundfish FMPs, and harvest limit regulations at Sec.  
679.20, NMFS must establish an overfishing level (OFL), an acceptable 
biological catch (ABC) and a total allowable catch (TAC) for each stock 
or stock complex (i.e., species or species group) that is assigned a 
target or a non-target species category classification. Overfishing 
occurs when the amount of catch of a stock or stock complex jeopardizes 
the capacity of the stock or stock complex to produce the maximum 
sustainable yield on a continuing basis. NMFS manages fisheries in an 
effort to ensure that no OFLs are exceeded in any year. Regulations at 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(d)(1) through (3) define the process NMFS uses to 
limit or prohibit fishing to prevent overfishing and maintain total 
catch at or below the OFL. The FMPs define the ABC as the level of a 
species or species

[[Page 22705]]

group's annual catch that accounts for the scientific uncertainty in 
the estimate of OFL and any other scientific uncertainty. Regulations 
at Sec. Sec.  679.20(d)(1) and (2) describe the range of management 
measures that NMFS uses to maintain total catch at or below the ABC. 
The FMPs define the TAC as the annual catch target for a species or 
species group, derived from the ABC by considering social and economic 
factors and management uncertainty. The TAC must be set lower than or 
equal to the ABC. Regulations at Sec. Sec.  679.20(d)(1) and (2) 
describe the range of management measures that NMFS uses to maintain 
total catch at or below the TAC.
    NMFS establishes the OFL, ABC, and TAC for each species or species 
group through the annual harvest specification process. For the most 
recent example of the annual harvest specifications, please see the 
proposed 2020/2021 annual harvest specifications (84 FR 66129, December 
3, 2019 and 84 FR 66109, December 3, 2019).
    In 2010, Amendments 96/87 to the BSAI and GOA FMPs, respectively, 
established the EC category and designated prohibited species (salmon, 
steelhead trout, crab, halibut, and herring) and forage fish species 
(as defined in Table 2c to 50 CFR part 679 and Sec.  679.20(i)) as EC 
species in the groundfish FMPs (75 FR 61639, October 6, 2010). Under 
Federal regulation at 50 CFR 600.310(d)(1), EC species are identified 
as non-target species for which catch specifications (i.e., an OFL, 
ABC, or TAC) are not required. For these EC species, NMFS maintained 
regulations that (1) prohibited directed fishing for forage fish, and 
(2) established a limit, known as the maximum retainable amount (MRA), 
on the amount of incidental harvest of forage fish while directed 
fishing for other groundfish species. Regulations at 50 CFR 679.2 
define the term ``directed fishing.'' Regulations at Sec.  679.20(e) 
describe the application and calculation of MRAs.
    In 2015, NMFS implemented Amendments 100/91 to the BSAI and GOA 
FMPs, respectively, to add grenadiers (family Macrouridae) to the EC 
category (80 FR 11897, March 5, 2015). The Council and NMFS added 
grenadiers to the FMPs in the EC category because grenadiers did not 
require conservation and management, but the Council acknowledged their 
role in the ecosystem and limited the groundfish fisheries' potential 
impact on grenadiers. Adding grenadiers to the EC category allowed for 
improved data collection and catch monitoring appropriate for 
grenadiers given their abundance, distribution, and catch. Additional 
detail is provided in the final rule implementing Amendments 100/91 (80 
FR 11897, March 5, 2015).
    In 2018, NMFS implemented Amendments 117/106 to the BSAI and GOA 
FMPs, respectively, to add squid species to the EC category (83 FR 
31460, July 6, 2018). The Council and NMFS moved squid from the target 
category in the FMPs to the EC category after making a determination 
that squid did not require conservation and management, but, similar to 
grenadiers, still acknowledged their role in the ecosystem and 
established an MRA to limit groundfish fisheries' potential impact on 
squid. Recordkeeping and reporting requirements were retained to 
monitor bycatch of squid. Additional detail is provided in the final 
rule implementing Amendments 117/106 (83 FR 31460, July 6, 2018).
    Sculpins are currently classified as target species in the 
groundfish FMPs and directed fishing for sculpins is allowed. However, 
sculpins are not a target species for any groundfish fishery in the 
BSAI or GOA. Sculpins are only caught incidentally to other target 
groundfish species. Sculpins are incidentally caught primarily in the 
BSAI by vessels using trawl gear directed fishing for yellowfin sole, 
rock sole, and Atka mackerel, as well as by vessels directed fishing 
for Pacific cod with hook-and-line, pot, and trawl gear (Table 3-4 and 
Table 3-5 of the Analysis). Sculpins are caught primarily in the GOA by 
vessels in the Pacific cod and shallow-water flatfish directed 
fisheries, and IFQ halibut fisheries (Table 3-6 of the Analysis).
    For both the BSAI and GOA, sculpins are managed as a Tier 5 
species, which is the least preferred method of specifying an 
overfishing limit when limited biological reference points are 
available. Only Tier 6 species, for which no biological reference 
points are available, are below Tier 5 in terms of limited information 
available. Nonetheless, specification of OFL for Tier 5 species 
reflects the best estimate possible for sculpins with the available 
data. As described in Section 3.2.3 of the Analysis, model estimates of 
sculpin abundance in the BSAI and GOA have been fairly stable over the 
years with no conservation concerns apparent.
    Stock assessments provide the scientific basis for determining 
whether a stock is experiencing overfishing (i.e., when a stock's 
recent harvest rate exceeds sustainable levels) or overfished (i.e., 
already depleted), and for calculating a sustainable harvest rate and 
forecasting catches that correspond to that rate. For stocks in Tiers 
4-6, no determination can be made of overfished status or approaching 
an overfished condition as information is insufficient to estimate the 
Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) stock level. Therefore, it is not 
possible to determine whether the sculpin complex is overfished or 
whether it is approaching an overfished condition because it is managed 
under Tier 5. However, in the absence of directed fishing, they are 
very unlikely to be overfished. Sculpins, in general, are not retained. 
As noted in Section 3.2.2 of the Analysis, sculpin catch has been 
substantially below ABC and OFL, and has been a small proportion of the 
biomass each year.

Determining Which Species Require Conservation and Management

    Section 302(h)(1) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires a council to 
prepare an FMP for each fishery under its authority that is in need of 
conservation and management. ``Conservation and management'' is defined 
in section 3(5) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The NS guidelines at Sec.  
600.305(c) (revised on October 18, 2016, 81 FR 718585) provide 
direction for determining which stocks will require conservation and 
management and provide direction to regional councils and NMFS for how 
to consider these factors in making this determination. Specifically, 
the guidelines direct regional councils and NMFS to consider a non-
exhaustive list of ten factors when deciding whether stocks require 
conservation and management.
    Section 2.2.1 in the Analysis considers each of the 10 factors' 
relevance to sculpins. The analysis shows that while sculpins are 
currently classified as a target species in the FMPs, there has been no 
directed fishing for sculpins since they were included in the FMPs. 
Sculpins are not important to commercial, recreational, or subsistence 
users, nor are they important to the National or regional economy. 
There are no developing fisheries for sculpins in the EEZ off Alaska 
nor in waters of the State of Alaska. Because there is no directed 
fishing and incidental fishing-related mortality is low, there is very 
little probability that sculpins will become overfished. Sculpins are 
very unlikely to be in need of rebuilding, and are not targeted as a 
major food product in Alaska. There are no conservation concerns for 
sculpins since they are not targeted, are rarely retained, and future 
uses of sculpins remain available. Maintaining sculpins as a target 
species in the BSAI and GOA FMPs is not likely to change stock 
condition.

[[Page 22706]]

Amendments 121/110

    In October of 2019, the Council recommended, and NMFS now proposes, 
Amendments 121/110 to reclassify sculpins as EC category species in the 
FMPs. Based on a review of the best available scientific information, 
and after considering NS guidelines, the Council and NMFS determined 
that sculpins are not in need of conservation and management, and that 
classifying sculpins in the EC category is an appropriate action. While 
the Council determined that sculpins are not in need of conservation 
and management as defined by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and after 
considering the revised NS guidelines, the Council and NMFS determined 
that there are benefits to retaining sculpins as an EC species complex 
in the FMPs because they are a component of the ecosystem as benthic 
predators.
    Amendments 121/110 would establish the sculpins EC species complex 
in the groundfish FMPs to clarify that they are non-target species and 
not in need of conservation and management. Recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements would be maintained to monitor the effects of incidental 
catch of sculpins in the groundfish fisheries. Amendments 121/110 would 
allow NMFS to prohibit directed fisheries for sculpins and limit the 
retention and commercial sale of sculpins. Commercial sale of retained 
sculpins would be allowed, subject to MRAs, only if the retained catch 
is processed into fishmeal, in accordance with current Federal 
regulations at Sec.  679.20(i)(5). The limitation on processing and 
sale of EC species as anything other than fishmeal is status quo for 
all species moved to the EC; however, the Council is considering 
changing this limitation for squid and may also consider it for sculpin 
species to allow them to be processed and sold in other product forms, 
and that would be addressed with a subsequent action. By virtue of 
being classified as EC species, catch specifications for sculpins 
(i.e., OFLs, ABCs, and TACs) would no longer be required.
    Though the Council determined, and NMFS concurs, that sculpins are 
not in need of conservation and management, sculpin population status 
and bycatch should be monitored to continually assess vulnerability of 
sculpins to the groundfish fisheries. Therefore, the proposed rule 
retains recordkeeping and reporting requirements for sculpin bycatch. 
The proposed rule would prohibit directed fishing for sculpins to meet 
the intent of Amendments 121/110 that sculpins are not a target species 
complex. Because the definition of directed fishing at Sec.  679.2 is 
based on a MRA, the proposed rule would specify a retention limit for 
sculpins so that NMFS could implement the prohibition on directed 
fishing to meet the intent of Amendments 121/110.

Proposed Rule

    In addition to classifying sculpins as an EC species in the FMPs 
under Amendments 121/110, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes 
regulations to limit and monitor the incidental catch of sculpins. This 
proposed rule would--
     prohibit directed fishing for sculpins in the BSAI and GOA 
groundfish fisheries;
     maintain recordkeeping and reporting of sculpins in the 
BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries, but modify the regulations for 
clarity; and
     specify a sculpins retention limit, or MRA, of 20 percent 
in the BSAI and GOA Federal groundfish fisheries.
    To prohibit directed fishing, this proposed rule would revise 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(i) and 679.22(i) to prohibit directed fishing for 
sculpins at all times in the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries. This 
prohibition is consistent with the regulations and management approach 
for other EC species. NMFS prohibits directed fishing for forage fish, 
grenadiers, and squids.
    To clarify definitions, this proposed rule would add a definition 
for sculpins at Sec.  679.2. Recordkeeping and reporting requirements 
at Sec.  679.5 would not be modified by this proposed rule and would 
continue to require a vessel operator or manager in a BSAI or GOA 
groundfish fishery to record and report retained and discarded sculpins 
in logbooks, landing reports, and production reports. However, this 
proposed rule would clarify the recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements by adding an instruction to Sec.  679.5 to use the sculpin 
species code in Table 2c to 50 CFR part 679 (Table 2c) to record and 
report sculpin catch. Table 2c lists the species reporting codes for 
non-target EC groundfish FMP species. NMFS would modify Table 2c to add 
one sculpin species code and remove the existing sculpin species code 
from Table 2a to 50 CFR part 679 (species reporting codes for target 
groundfish FMP species) because sculpins would be removed as a target 
species in the groundfish FMPs. These revisions would maintain NMFS' 
ability to monitor the catch, retention, and discard of sculpins.
    Section 679.20 provides the general limitations for the BSAI and 
GOA groundfish fisheries. Because a TAC would no longer be specified 
for sculpins, this proposed rule would remove sculpins from Sec.  
679.20(b)(2), which specifies the amount of the TAC that is reserved 
for inseason management flexibility.
    The MRA is the proportion or percentage of retained catch of a 
species closed for directed fishing (incidental catch species) to the 
retained catch of a species open for directed fishing (basis species). 
This proposed rule would move sculpins out of the basis species 
category and into the incidental catch species category consistent with 
the prohibition on directed fishing for sculpins under this proposed 
rule. In the GOA, sculpins are included in the ``other species'' 
category (along with octopuses and sharks) for MRA purposes under the 
existing regulations. To specify a separate MRA for sculpins in the 
GOA, this proposed rule would remove sculpins from footnote 6, ``other 
species'' in Table 10 to 50 CFR part 679 and add sculpins as an 
incidental catch species with an MRA of 20 percent. This proposed rule 
would similarly revise Table 11 to 50 CFR part 679 to remove sculpins 
as a basis species in the BSAI and add sculpins to footnote 7 to 
indicate that forage fish, grenadiers, squids, and sculpins are all 
defined in Table 2c.
    In developing this proposed rule, the Council and NMFS considered a 
range of sculpins MRA percentages: 2 percent, 10 percent, and 20 
percent. Sculpins, in general, are not retained, and fishery observer 
data indicate that the retention rate has been below 10 percent in the 
BSAI and below 20 percent in the GOA. The Analysis (Table 3-7) shows 
that since 2013, the retention rate has been below 5 percent in both 
the BSAI and GOA. Table 3-8 in the Analysis shows the low percentage of 
retained sculpins compared to the total retained groundfish. In the 
BSAI, the proportion of retained sculpins relative to retained 
groundfish ranges from a low of 0.00 percent to a high of 0.02 percent. 
In the GOA, the percent of retained sculpins relative to groundfish 
ranges from a low of 0.00 percent to a high of 0.04 percent. As noted 
in Section 3.2.2 of the Analysis, sculpin catch has been substantially 
below ABC and OFL, and has been a small proportion of the biomass each 
year. Section 2.3.1 of the Analysis discusses the rationale for 
selecting an MRA of 20 percent. A MRA of 20 percent relative to all 
basis species discourages targeting of sculpins and minimizes 
regulatory discards. Because there are no conservation concerns for 
sculpins and retention of sculpins has been low, a lower MRA would not 
further discourage targeting, but may

[[Page 22707]]

result in increased regulatory discards of sculpins. Therefore, the 
Council recommended and NMFS proposes specifying a MRA for sculpins of 
20 percent in both the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries.

Classification

    Pursuant to sections 304(b)(1)(A) and 305(d) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this 
proposed rule is consistent with Amendments 121/110, other provisions 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to 
further consideration after public comment period.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
the purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    This proposed rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory 
action because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 
12866.

Regulatory Impact Review (RIR)

    An RIR was prepared to assess all costs and benefits of available 
regulatory alternatives. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS 
(see ADDRESSES). NMFS is recommending Amendments 121/110 and the 
regulatory revisions in this proposed rule based on those measures that 
maximized net benefits to the Nation. Specific aspects of the economic 
analysis are discussed below in the Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis section.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA)

    This IRFA was prepared for this proposed rule, as required by 
section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 603), to 
describe the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have 
on small entities. An IRFA describes why this action is being proposed; 
the objectives and legal basis for the proposed rule; the number of 
small entities to which the proposed rule would apply; any projected 
reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements of the 
proposed rule; any overlapping, duplicative, or conflicting Federal 
rules; and any significant alternatives to the proposed rule that would 
accomplish the stated objectives, consistent with applicable statutes, 
and that would minimize any significant adverse economic impacts of the 
proposed rule on small entities. Descriptions of this proposed rule, 
its purpose, and the legal basis are contained earlier in this preamble 
and are not repeated here.
Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by This Proposed 
Rule
    This proposed rule would directly regulate any vessel operator 
harvesting sculpins in the federally managed groundfish fisheries in 
the BSAI and GOA. The thresholds applied to determine if an entity or 
group of entities are ``small'' under the RFA depend on the industry 
classification for the entity or entities. Businesses classified as 
primarily engaged in commercial fishing are considered small entities 
if they have combined annual gross receipts not in excess of $11.0 
million for all affiliated operations worldwide (50 CFR 200.2). The 
most recent estimates of the number of fishing vessels participating in 
the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries that are small entities are 
provided in Table 2 in the IRFAs for the BSAI and GOA Harvest 
Specifications for 2020-2021 (see ADDRESSES). In 2018, there were 182 
catcher vessels and 3 catcher/processors in the BSAI, and 756 catcher 
vessels and 3 catcher/processors in the GOA. These estimates likely 
overstate the number of small entities in the groundfish fisheries off 
Alaska because some of these vessels are affiliated through common 
ownership or membership in a cooperative and the affiliated vessels 
together would exceed the $11.0 million annual gross receipts threshold 
for small entities.
    For operators of vessels currently participating in these 
fisheries, the economic impacts of this proposed rule are primarily 
beneficial or neutral. Removing sculpins from the BSAI target species 
category would remove the sculpins TAC from inclusion in the 2 million 
metric ton optimum yield (OY) cap in the BSAI. The amount of the OY cap 
that has been reserved for sculpins would be available to increase the 
TAC limit or limits for other BSAI target species. This effect would 
benefit participants in the BSAI fisheries that experience TAC 
increases relative to what the TACs would have been without this 
proposed rule. Some of the entities that experience benefits from 
increased TACs in the future may be small entities. The effects on 
target species TACs would be neutral for the GOA fisheries, as the OY 
has not constrained TACs in the GOA to date. Therefore, removing the 
sculpins TAC in the GOA will not allow for an increase in the TAC for 
another target species.
    The only potential adverse economic impact that has been identified 
for this proposed rule is that vessel owners or operators who may wish 
to conduct directed fishing for sculpins in the future, and who would 
wish to retain more sculpins than they would be allowed to retain under 
the 20 percent MRA, would not be able to do so. This potential adverse 
impact would not affect any current participants relative to 
opportunities available to them because there has been no directed 
fishing for sculpins. Therefore, no current participants would lose an 
economic opportunity that is available to them today or has been 
available to them.
Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Other Compliance Requirements
    Under this proposed rule, requirements for recording and reporting 
the catch and discard of sculpins in logbooks or on catch or production 
reports will be maintained as they are in existing regulations. The 
proposed rule would make only minor modifications to clarify the 
recordkeeping and reporting requirements in Sec.  679.5, Table 2a to 50 
CFR part 679, and Table 2c to 50 CFR part 679. Therefore, moving 
sculpins from the target species category to the EC category will not 
change recordkeeping and reporting costs for fishery participants or 
impose any additional or new costs on participants.
Duplicate, Overlapping, or Conflicting Federal Rules
    No duplication, overlap, or conflict between this proposed rule and 
existing Federal rules has been identified.
Description of Significant Alternatives That Minimize Adverse Impacts 
on Small Entities
    The Council and NMFS considered two alternatives. Among the two 
alternatives, Alternative 2 Option 3 (the preferred alternative) 
provides the most economic benefits to current participants in the BSAI 
and GOA groundfish fisheries. The primary economic benefit of this 
proposed rule is to reduce the potential constraints imposed by the 
OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for sculpins on BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries. 
Among the three options considered for the sculpins MRA (2 percent, 10 
percent, and 20 percent), the 20 percent MRA that was selected 
minimizes the economic impact on any fishing vessel that is a small 
entity because it provides the greatest opportunity to retain sculpins 
as incidental catch in other groundfish fisheries.
    Alternative 1 is the no action alternative and would continue to 
classify sculpins as target species in the groundfish FMPs. OFLs, ABCs, 
and

[[Page 22708]]

TACs would continue to be set for sculpins as a species group in both 
the BSAI and GOA. Relative to Alternative 2, Alternative 1 could be 
considered less beneficial to small entities because all catch 
specifications would need to be maintained, and current constraints on 
the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries would continue. However, 
Alternative 2 (the preferred alternative) also could be considered more 
restrictive to small entities than Alternative 1 if the prohibition on 
directed fishing for sculpins under the proposed rule limits future 
participants' ability to conduct directed fishing for sculpins more so 
than would occur under the status quo. Alternative 1 allows NMFS to 
determine annually whether to open a directed fishery for sculpins.
    Alternative 2 would classify sculpins in the BSAI and GOA in the EC 
category and implement a regulation prohibiting directed fishing for 
sculpins that could only be revised through subsequent rulemaking. 
However, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes that the benefits of 
the proposed rule to current fishery participants, including small 
entities, outweigh the potential future adverse impacts of the 
prohibition against directed fishing for sculpins. In addition, this 
provision can be re-evaluated by the Council and NMFS in the future if 
fishery participants want to develop directed fisheries for sculpins.

Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This proposed rule contains a collection-of-information requirement 
subject to review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). This requirement has 
been submitted to OMB for approval under OMB Control Numbers 0648-0213 
and 0648-0515. This proposed rule would make minor revisions to the 
information collection requirements to clarify the location of the 
species code for sculpins in the tables to 50 CFR part 679 to note that 
sculpins should be reported as non-target EC species rather than target 
species. The requirements for recording and reporting the catch and 
discard of sculpins in logbooks or on catch or production reports will 
not change. These minor revisions do not change the public reporting 
burden or costs.
    Public comment is sought regarding whether this proposed collection 
of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions 
of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical 
utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate, ways to enhance the 
quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and 
ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information, including 
through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of 
information technology. Send comments on these or any other aspects of 
the collection of information to NMFS Alaska Region (see ADDRESSES), by 
email to [email protected], or by fax to (202) 395-5806.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required 
to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for failure to 
comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of 
the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently 
valid OMB control number. All currently approved NOAA collections of 
information may be viewed at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRASearch#.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: April 14, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 679 is proposed to 
be amended as follows:

PART 679--FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA

0
1. The authority citation for part 679 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; 
Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 111-281.

0
2. In Sec.  679.2, add a definition for ``Sculpins'' in alphabetical 
order to read as follows:


Sec.  679.2   Definitions.

* * * * *
    Sculpins (see Table 2c to this part and Sec.  679.20(i)).
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  679.5, revise paragraph (a)(3) introductory text, and 
paragraphs (c)(3)(vi)(F), and (c)(4)(vi)(E) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.5   Recordkeeping and reporting (R&R).

    (a) * * *
    (3) Fish to be recorded and reported. The operator or manager must 
record and report the following information (see paragraphs (a)(3)(i) 
through (iv) of this section) for all groundfish (see Table 2a to this 
part), prohibited species (see Table 2b to this part), forage fish (see 
Table 2c to this part), grenadiers (see Table 2c to this part), squids 
(see Table 2c to this part), and sculpins (see Table 2c to this part). 
The operator or manager may record and report the following information 
(see paragraphs (a)(3)(i) through (iv) of this section) for non-
groundfish (see Table 2d to this part):
* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (vi) * * *
    (F) Species codes. The operator must record and report required 
information for all groundfish (see Table 2a to this part), prohibited 
species (see Table 2b to this part), forage fish (see Table 2c to this 
part), grenadiers (see Table 2c to this part), squids (see Table 2c to 
this part), and sculpins (see Table 2c to this part). The operator may 
record and report information for non-groundfish (see Table 2d to this 
part).
* * * * *
    (4) * * *
    (vi) * * *
    (E) Species codes. The operator must record and report required 
information for all groundfish (see Table 2a to this part), prohibited 
species (see Table 2b to this part), forage fish (see Table 2c to this 
part), grenadiers (see Table 2c to this part), squids (see Table 2c to 
this part), and sculpins (see Table 2c to this part). The operator may 
record and report information for non-groundfish (see Table 2d to this 
part).
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  679.20, revise paragraph (b)(2) introductory text, 
paragraph (i) heading, and paragraphs (i)(3) through (5) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  679.20   General limitations.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) GOA. Initial reserves are established for pollock, Pacific cod, 
flatfish, octopuses, and sharks, which are equal to 20 percent of the 
TACs for these species or species groups.
* * * * *
    (i) Forage fish, grenadiers, squids, and sculpins.
* * * * *
    (3) Closure to directed fishing. Directed fishing for forage fish, 
grenadiers, squids, and sculpins is prohibited at all times in the BSAI 
and GOA.
    (4) Limits on sale, barter, trade, and processing. The sale, 
barter, trade, or processing of forage fish, grenadiers, squids, and 
sculpins is prohibited, except as provided in paragraph (i)(5) of this 
section.

[[Page 22709]]

    (5) Allowable fishmeal production. Retained catch of forage fish, 
grenadiers, squids, or sculpins not exceeding the maximum retainable 
amount may be processed into fishmeal for sale, barter, or trade.
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  679.22, revise paragraph (i) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.22   Closures.

* * * * *
    (i) Forage fish, grenadiers, squids, and sculpins closures. See 
Sec.  679.20(i)(3).
0
6. Revise Table 2a to part 679 to read as follows:

           Table 2a to Part 679--Species Codes: FMP Groundfish
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                     Species description                         Code
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atka mackerel (greenling)...................................         193
Flatfish, miscellaneous (flatfish species without separate           120
 codes).....................................................
FLOUNDER:
    Alaska plaice...........................................         133
    Arrowtooth..............................................         121
    Bering..................................................         116
    Kamchatka...............................................         117
    Starry..................................................         129
Octopuses...................................................         870
Pacific cod.................................................         110
Pollock.....................................................         270
ROCKFISH:
    Aurora (Sebastes aurora)................................         185
    Black (BSAI) (S. melanops)..............................         142
    Blackgill (S. melanostomus).............................         177
    Blue (BSAI) (S. mystinus)...............................         167
    Bocaccio (S. paucispinis)...............................         137
    Canary (S. pinniger)....................................         146
    Chilipepper (S. goodei).................................         178
    China (S. nebulosus)....................................         149
    Copper (S. caurinus)....................................         138
    Darkblotched (S. crameri)...............................         159
    Dusky (S. variabilis)...................................         172
    Greenstriped (S. elongatus).............................         135
    Harlequin (S. variegatus)...............................         176
    Northern (S. polyspinis)................................         136
    Pacific Ocean Perch (S. alutus).........................         141
    Pygmy (S. wilsoni)......................................         179
    Quillback (S. maliger)..................................         147
    Redbanded (S. babcocki).................................         153
    Redstripe (S. proriger).................................         158
    Rosethorn (S. helvomaculatus)...........................         150
    Rougheye (S. aleutianus)................................         151
    Sharpchin (S. zacentrus)................................         166
    Shortbelly (S. jordani).................................         181
    Shortraker (S. borealis)................................         152
    Silvergray (S. brevispinis).............................         157
    Splitnose (S. diploproa)................................         182
    Stripetail (S. saxicola)................................         183
    Thornyhead (all Sebastolobus species)...................         143
    Tiger (S. nigrocinctus).................................         148
    Vermilion (S. miniatus).................................         184
    Widow (S. entomelas)....................................         156
    Yelloweye (S. ruberrimus)...............................         145
    Yellowmouth (S. reedi)..................................         175
    Yellowtail (S. flavidus)................................         155
Sablefish (blackcod)........................................         710
SHARKS:
    Other (if salmon, spiny dogfish or Pacific sleeper               689
     shark--use specific species code)......................
    Pacific sleeper.........................................         692
    Salmon..................................................         690
    Spiny dogfish...........................................         691
SKATES:
    Alaska (Bathyraja parmifera)............................         703
    Aleutian (B. aleutica)..................................         704
    Whiteblotched (B. maculate).............................         705
    Big (Raja binoculata)...................................         702
    Longnose (R. rhina).....................................         701
    Other (if Alaska, Aleutian, whiteblotched, big, or               700
     longnose skate--use specific species code).............
SOLE:
    Butter..................................................         126
    Dover...................................................         124
    English.................................................         128
    Flathead................................................         122

[[Page 22710]]

 
    Petrale.................................................         131
    Rex.....................................................         125
    Rock....................................................         123
    Sand....................................................         132
    Yellowfin...............................................         127
    Turbot, Greenland.......................................         134
------------------------------------------------------------------------

0
7. Revise Table 2c to part 679 to read as follows:

    Table 2c to Part 679--Species Codes: FMP Forage Fish Species (All
   Species of the Following Families), Grenadier Species, Squids, and
                                Sculpins
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Species identification                        Code
------------------------------------------------------------------------
FORAGE FISH:
    Bristlemouths, lightfishes, and anglemouths (family              209
     Gonostomatidae)........................................
    Capelin smelt (family Osmeridae)........................         516
    Deep-sea smelts (family Bathylagidae)...................         773
    Eulachon smelt (family Osmeridae).......................         511
    Gunnels (family Pholidae)...............................         207
    Krill (order Euphausiacea)..............................         800
    Lanternfishes (family Myctophidae)......................         772
    Pacific Sand fish (family Trichodontidae)...............         206
    Pacific Sand lance (family Ammodytidae).................         774
    Pricklebacks, war-bonnets, eelblennys, cockscombs and            208
     Shannys (family Stichaeidae)...........................
    Surf smelt (family Osmeridae)...........................         515
GRENADIERS:.................................................
  Giant Grenadiers (Albatrossia pectoralis).................         214
  Other Grenadiers..........................................         213
SQUID:
    Squids..................................................         875
SCULPINS:
    Sculpins................................................         160
------------------------------------------------------------------------

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
0
8. Revise Table 10 to part 679 to read as follows:

[[Page 22711]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP23AP20.011


[[Page 22712]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP23AP20.012


[[Page 22713]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP23AP20.013


[[Page 22714]]


0
9. Revise Table 11 to part 679 to read as follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP23AP20.014


[[Page 22715]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP23AP20.015

[FR Doc. 2020-08145 Filed 4-22-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-C