Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2020 Harvest Specifications for Pacific Whiting, Cowcod and Shortbelly Rockfish and 2020 Pacific Whiting Tribal Allocation, 36803-36815 [2020-12959]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations this action is not significant under Executive Order 12866. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay of effectiveness period for this rule, to ensure that the final management measures are in place as soon as possible. The Federal coastwide regulatory measures for recreational summer flounder fishing that were codified last year (84 FR 31743; July 3, 2019) remain in effect until the decision to waive Federal measures for 2020 is made effective by this final rule. Many states have already implemented their conservationally equivalent 2020 measures; a delay in implementing the measures of this rule will increase confusion on what measures are in place in Federal waters. Inconsistencies between the states’ measures and the Federal measures could lead to potential confusion and misunderstanding of the applicable regulations and could increase the likelihood of noncompliant landings. Additionally, the Federal measures currently in place are more restrictive than many of the measures in state waters, which unnecessarily disadvantages federally permitted vessels who are subject to these more restrictive measures until this final rule is effective. In response to this action, unlike actions that require an adjustment period to comply with new rules, recreational and charter/party operators will not have to purchase new equipment or otherwise expend time or money to comply with these management measures. Rather, complying with this final rule simply means adhering to the published management measures for summer flounder while the recreational and charter/party operators are engaged in fishing activities. For these reasons, the Assistant Administrator finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay of effectiveness period and to implement this rule upon publication in the Federal Register. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. A final regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 36803 List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Dated: June 1, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.102, paragraph (d)(2) introductory text is revised to read as follows: ■ § 648.102 Summer flounder specifications. * * * * * (d) * * * (2) Conservation equivalent measures. Individual states, or regions formed voluntarily by adjacent states (i.e., multi-state conservation equivalency regions), may implement different combinations of minimum and/or maximum fish sizes, possession limits, and closed seasons that achieve equivalent conservation as the coastwide measures established under paragraph (e)(1) of this section. Each state or multi-state conservation equivalency region may implement measures by mode or area only if the proportional standard error of recreational landing estimates by mode or area for that state is less than 30 percent. * * * * * 3. In § 648.107, paragraph (a) introductory text is revised to read as follows: ■ § 648.107 Conservation equivalent measures for the summer flounder fishery. (a) The Regional Administrator has determined that the recreational fishing measures proposed to be implemented by the states of Maine through North Carolina for 2020 are the conservation equivalent of the season, size limits, and possession limit prescribed in §§ 648.104(b), 648.105, and 648.106. This determination is based on a recommendation from the Summer Flounder Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–12069 Filed 6–17–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00089 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 200610–0156] RIN 0648–BJ53 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2020 Harvest Specifications for Pacific Whiting, Cowcod and Shortbelly Rockfish and 2020 Pacific Whiting Tribal Allocation National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS issues this final rule to establish 2020 harvest specifications and management measures for Pacific whiting, shortbelly rockfish, and cowcod caught in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Pacific Whiting Act of 2006, and other applicable laws. For Pacific whiting, this rule establishes the 2020 adjusted U.S. Total Allowable Catch level, tribal and non-tribal allocations, and research and bycatch set-asides. This final rule also adjusts the 2020 harvest specifications for shortbelly rockfish and cowcod. The catch limits in this rule are intended to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Pacific whiting, shortbelly rockfish, and cowcod stocks. DATES: Effective June 18, 2020. ADDRESSES: This final rule is accessible via the internet at the Office of the Federal Register website at https:// www.federalregister.gov. Background information and documents including an integrated analysis for this action (Analysis), which addresses the statutory requirements of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the National Environmental Policy Act, Presidential Executive Order 12866, and the Regulatory Flexibility Act are available at the NMFS website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ action/2020-harvest-specificationspacific-whiting-cowcod-and-shortbellyrockfish-and-2020-pacific and at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s website at http://www.pcouncil.org/. The final environmental impact statement regarding Harvest SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 36804 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Specifications and Management Measures for 2015–2016 and Biennial Periods Thereafter, and the Final Environmental Assessment for Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery 2019–20 Harvest Specifications, Yelloweye Rebuilding Plan Revisions, and Management Measures, are available on the NMFS West Coast Region website at: www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/ publications/nepa/groundfish/ groundfish_nepa_documents.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stacey Miller, phone: 503–231–6290, and email: Stacey.Miller@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background This final rule includes actions for the Pacific whiting tribal and non-tribal fisheries, shortbelly rockfish, and cowcod. These actions are combined into one final rule because they all relate to establishing catch limits and management measures for Pacific Coast groundfish stocks in 2020. This rule announces the 2020 Pacific whiting coastwide Total Allowable Catch (TAC), establishes the Pacific whiting U.S. TAC based on the coastwide TAC, tribal allocation, allocations for three commercial whiting sectors, and setasides for research and incidental mortality of Pacific whiting as recommended by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council); increases the 2020 annual catch limit (ACL) for shortbelly rockfish; and eliminates the 2020 annual catch target (ACT) and reduces the research setaside for cowcod. The allocations for Pacific whiting are effective until December 31, 2020. The adjusted catch limits for cowcod and shortbelly supersede those put in place for 2020 through the 2019–2020 Pacific Coast Groundfish Biennial Harvest Specifications and Management Measures (83 FR 63970; December 12, 2018), and are being analyzed as part of the 2021–2022 Pacific Coast Groundfish Biennial Harvest Specifications and Management Measures, which are anticipated to be effective on January 1, 2021. Additional background information on each of the measures included in this final rule are included in the proposed rule, published on April 17, 2020 (85 FR 21372), and is not repeated here. Pacific Whiting 2020 Pacific Whiting Harvest Specifications, Tribal Allocation and Non-Tribal Allocation The transboundary stock of Pacific whiting is managed through the Agreement Between the Government of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 the United States of America and the Government of Canada on Pacific Hake/ Whiting of 2003, Nov. 21, 2003, T.I.A.S. 08–625 (Agreement). NMFS issued a proposed rule on April 17, 2020 (85 FR 21372) that describes the Agreement, including the establishment of F–40 percent default harvest rate, explicit allocation of Pacific whiting coastwide TAC to the U.S. (73.88 percent) and Canada (26.12 percent), the bilateral bodies to implement the terms of the Agreement, and the process used to determine the coastwide TAC. The 2020 Joint Management Committee (JMC) and Advisory Panel (AP) met March 11–13, 2020, via the internet, but did not reach a bilateral agreement on the coastwide TAC. The Agreement does not specify a procedure for when the JMC does not agree on a coastwide TAC. However, the 2006 Pacific Whiting Act (16 U.S.C. 7006(c)) identifies procedures for when the JMC does not recommend a final TAC. The Pacific Whiting Act states that NMFS (as delegated by the Secretary of Commerce) should establish the Pacific whiting TAC, taking into account recommendations from the Pacific whiting treaty advisory bodies, and Council. The Pacific Whiting Act requires NMFS to base the TAC decision on the best scientific information available, and use the default harvest rate unless scientific information indicates a different rate is necessary to sustain the Pacific whiting resource. The Pacific Whiting Act also requires NMFS to establish the U.S. share of the TAC based on the U.S./Canada percentage split and adjustments specified in the Agreement. Finally, the Pacific Whiting Act requires NMFS to make the necessary adjustments to the TAC specified in the Agreement (Paragraph 5 of Article II). The Agreement (Paragraph 5 of Article II) requires adjustments to the coastwide TAC to account for overages if either U.S. or Canadian catch in the previous year exceeded its individual TAC, or carryovers, if U.S. or Canadian catch was less than its individual TAC in the previous year. Both the U.S. and Canada harvested less than their individual TACs in 2019, and therefore carryover is applied to the 2020 individual TACs. Taking into account the percentage shares for each country (26.12 percent for Canada and 73.88 percent for the U.S.) and the adjustments for uncaught fish, as required by the Pacific Whiting Act, this final rule announces a final adjusted coastwide TAC of 575,000 metric tons (mt) and a final adjusted TAC for the U.S. of 424,810 mt (367,202 mt + 57,608 mt carryover adjustment). Following the Act’s criteria, NMFS PO 00000 Frm 00090 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 analyzed a range of alternatives in the proposed rule (85 FR 21372; April 17, 2020) and determined a final adjusted coastwide TAC of 575,000 mt maintains the sustainability of the Pacific whiting stock and balances the economic needs of coastal communities. This TAC is well below the default level of F–40 percent and is supported by the recommendations from the JMC and its advisory bodies, and is consistent with the best available scientific information, provisions of the Agreement, and the Whiting Act. Tribal Allocations This final rule establishes the tribal allocation of Pacific whiting for 2020 as described in the proposed rule (85 FR 21372; April 17, 2020). Since 1996, NMFS has been allocating a portion of the U.S. TAC of Pacific whiting to the tribal fishery. Regulations for the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) specify that the tribal allocation is subtracted from the total U.S. Pacific whiting TAC. The tribal Pacific whiting fishery is managed separately from the non-tribal Pacific whiting fishery and is not governed by limited entry or open access regulations or allocations. NMFS is establishing the 2020 tribal allocation as 74,342 mt (17.5 percent of the U.S. TAC) in this final rule. In 2009, NMFS, the states of Washington and Oregon, and the tribes with treaty rights to harvest Pacific whiting started a process to determine the long-term tribal allocation for Pacific whiting; however, no long-term allocation has been determined. While new scientific information or discussions with the relevant parties may impact that decision, the best available scientific information to date suggests that 74,342 mt is within the likely range of potential treaty right amounts. As with prior tribal Pacific whiting allocations, this final rule is not intended to establish precedent for future Pacific whiting seasons, or for the determination of the total amount of Pacific whiting to which the Tribes are entitled under their treaty right. Rather, this rule adopts an interim allocation. The long-term tribal treaty amount will be based on further development of scientific information and additional coordination and discussion with and among the coastal tribes and the states of Washington and Oregon. Harvest Guidelines and Allocations This final rule also establishes the fishery harvest guideline (HG), also called the non-tribal allocation, as described in the proposed rule published on April 17, 2020 (85 FR 21372). The 2020 fishery HG for Pacific E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations whiting is 348,968 mt. This amount was determined by deducting the 74,342 mt tribal allocation and the 1,500 mt allocation for scientific research catch and fishing mortality in non-groundfish fisheries from the total U.S. TAC of 424,810 mt. The Council recommends the research and bycatch set-aside on an annual basis, based on estimates of scientific research catch and estimated bycatch mortality in non-groundfish fisheries. The regulations further allocate the fishery HG among the three non-tribal sectors of the Pacific whiting fishery: The catcher/processor (C/P) Coop Program, the Mothership (MS) Coop Program, and the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program. The C/P Coop Program is allocated 34 percent (118,649 mt for 2020), the MS Coop Program is allocated 24 percent (83,752 mt for 2020), and the Shorebased IFQ Program is allocated 42 percent (146,567 mt for 2020). The fishery south of 42° N lat. may not take more than 7,328 mt (5 percent of the Shorebased IFQ Program allocation) prior to May 15, the start of the primary Pacific whiting season north of 42° N lat. The environmental assessment for the 2019–2020 harvest specifications rule (see ADDRESSES) analyzed a range of TAC alternatives for 2020, and the final 2020 TAC falls within this analyzed range. In addition, via the 2019–2020 harvest specifications rulemaking process, the public had an opportunity to comment on the 2019–2020 TACs for Pacific whiting, along with all other species in the groundfish FMP with catch limits set through that action. NMFS follows this process because, unlike for all other groundfish species, the TAC for Pacific whiting is typically decided in a highly abbreviated annual process from February through April of every year, and the normal rulemaking process would not allow for the fishery to open with the new TAC on the annual season opening date of May 15. TABLE 1—2020 U.S. PACIFIC WHITING TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH AND ALLOCATIONS IN METRIC TONS 2020 Pacific whiting harvest specifications (mt) U.S. TAC .............................. Research and Incidental Mortality Set-Aside ............ Tribal Allocation .................... Catcher/Processor (C/P) Coop Program Allocation .. Mothership (MS) Coop Program Allocation ................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 424,810 1,500 74,342 118,649 83,752 Jkt 250001 TABLE 1—2020 U.S. PACIFIC WHITING TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH AND ALLOCATIONS IN METRIC TONS—Continued 2020 Pacific whiting harvest specifications (mt) Shorebased IFQ Program Allocation .............................. 146,567 Shortbelly Rockfish (Sebastes jordani) This final rule implements the Council recommendation from its November 2019 meeting, to increase the 2020 ACL for shortbelly rockfish to 3,000 mt. The remaining shortbelly rockfish catch limits for 2020, including the OFL and ABC, are unchanged from those implemented in the 2019–2020 Pacific Coast Groundfish Biennial Harvest Specifications (83 FR 63970; December 12, 2018). The changes are summarized in Table 2 below. TABLE 2—2020 HARVEST SPECIFICATIONS AND MANAGEMENT MEASURES FOR SHORTBELLY ROCKFISH IN METRIC TONS Limits in mt OFL ....................................... ABC ...................................... ACL ....................................... Fishery Harvest Guideline .... 6,950 5,789 3,000 2,983 Shortbelly rockfish (Sebastes jordani) is one of the most abundant rockfish species and an important forage species in the California Current Ecosystem. Historically, shortbelly rockfish was most abundant off central California from Monterey Bay to Point Reyes, common in southern California, and only rarely encountered north of Cape Mendocino, California. In recent years, shortbelly rockfish distribution has extended north of Cape Mendocino, California and into Oregon and Washington waters, the principal fishing areas the midwater trawl fishery operates in to harvest Pacific whiting. While shortbelly rockfish bycatch was historically low in the Pacific whiting fishery, the recent expansion in distribution and a likely increase in abundance, is resulting in increased bycatch of shortbelly rockfish in the Pacific whiting midwater trawl fishery. Increasing the shortbelly rockfish ACL to 3,000 mt for the final half of the 2020 fishing year will accommodate incidental bycatch of the shortbelly rockfish stock given recent high bycatch in groundfish trawl fisheries, while continuing to minimize bycatch, PO 00000 Frm 00091 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 36805 discourage development of a targeted fishery for shortbelly rockfish, and continuing to protect the availability of shortbelly rockfish as important forage in the California Current Ecosystem. As described in the proposed rule (85 FR 21372; April 17, 2020) the increase of the 2020 ACL is not anticipated to induce targeting of shortbelly and continues to protect the availability of shortbelly rockfish as important forage in the California Current Ecosystem. Scientific information currently available provides evidence of above average forage conditions in the California Current Ecosystem with higher abundances of forage species such as anchovy and a high overall shortbelly rockfish population in 2018– 2019. Further, the higher ACL is well below the shortbelly rockfish OFL of 6,950 mt, and ABC of 5,789 mt. The final rule is an accountability measure that addresses the operational issue of a low ACL that resulted in ACL overages in 2018 and 2019. National Standard 1 Guidelines state: ‘‘On an annual basis, the Council must determine as soon as possible after the fishing year if an ACL was exceeded. If an ACL was exceeded, AMs must be implemented as soon as possible to correct the operational issue that caused the ACL overage, as well as any biological consequences to the stock or stock complex resulting from the overage when it is known.’’ The final rule will improve the performance and effectiveness of the ACL by increasing the ACL to reflect new information regarding shortbelly rockfish abundance and bycatch rates in the groundfish fishery. This will reduce the risk of an ACL overage in 2020, which would potentially close midwater trawl fisheries and cause adverse economic impacts to West Coast fishing communities while continuing to protect the availability of shortbelly rockfish as important forage in the California Current Ecosystem. The Council is considering harvest specifications and management measures for shortbelly rockfish as part of the 2021–2022 groundfish biennial harvest specifications cycle. The Council adopted a shortbelly rockfish ACL of 2,000 mt as its final preferred alternative for the 2021–2022 groundfish biennial harvest specifications cycle during its April 2020 meeting. The Council is also considering accountability measures such as ACTs to address any potential ACL overage as part of the 2021–2022 groundfish biennial harvest specifications and management measures and is anticipated to adopt the final preferred shortbelly rockfish E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 36806 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations management measures during its June 2020 meeting. Cowcod (Sebastes levis) South of 40≥10′ N Latitude This final rule removes the cowcod ACT of 6 mt and reduces the research catch set-aside to 1 mt for cowcod south of 40°10′ N latitude in 2020. The ACL will remain at 10 mt. Cowcod allocations increase from 2.2 mt to 3.2 mt to the trawl sectors, and from 3.8 mt to 5.8 mt to the non-trawl sectors. The 2020 cowcod annual vessel limit increases from 858 pounds (0.4 mt) to 1,264 pounds (0.6 mt) for affected participants in the limited entry trawl fishery south of 40°10′ N latitude. The measures are summarized in Table 3 below. TABLE 3—SUMMARY OF THE FEATURES FOR COWCOD SOUTH OF 40°10′ N LATITUDE IN METRIC TONS, EXCEPT WHERE NOTED AS POUNDS 2020 Harvest specifications 1 OFL .............................................................................................................................................................................................. ABC ............................................................................................................................................................................................. ACL .............................................................................................................................................................................................. Research Set-aside ..................................................................................................................................................................... Fishery HG .................................................................................................................................................................................. ACT ............................................................................................................................................................................................. Non-Trawl Allocation (64 percent of the Fishery HG) ................................................................................................................ Trawl Allocation (36 percent of the Fishery HG) ........................................................................................................................ Annual Vessel Limit (17.7 percent of trawl allocation) ............................................................................................................... Increase in vessel limit ................................................................................................................................................................ Increase in vessel limit (percent) ................................................................................................................................................ 1 Table 76. 68. 10. 1. 9. Removed. 5.8. 3.2. 0.6 (1,264 pounds). 0.2 (406 pounds). 47. presents allocation and annual vessel limit values rounded to the nearest tenth of a metric ton. The Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program (75 FR 60868; October 1, 2010 and 75 FR 78343; December 15, 2010) issued IFQ to limited entry trawl participants. In addition to IFQ, the program established annual vessel limits for IFQ species to prevent any one entity from having excessive control of a stock during a fishing year. The low overall catch limits of cowcod have prevented the Shorebased IFQ bottom trawlers from accessing healthy co-occurring groundfish stocks and in some years have resulted in vessels ending their fishing season early. Although the cowcod stock is now rebuilt, the timing of the biennial groundfish specification cycle means that the fleet would not benefit from less restrictive cowcod catch limits until 2021. This measure will reduce the risk that vessels fishing south of 40°10′ N lat. in the groundfish trawl IFQ program would reach their annual vessel limit for cowcod in 2020 and have to cease fishing in the trawl IFQ program for the remainder of the year, which would result in severe adverse economic impacts for those vessels and the fishing communities reliant on the trawl fishery south of 40°10′ N lat. In addition, the action may also benefit the non-trawl sectors including sport, limited entry fixed gear, and open access because the non-trawl allocation will increase by 2 mt (4,409 lbs) compared to the limit initially implemented for 2020. This could create additional flexibility for these fleets. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 Comments and Responses On April 17, 2020, NMFS published a proposed rule in the Federal Register for the 2020 harvest specifications and management measures for Pacific whiting, shortbelly rockfish and cowcod (85 FR 21372). The comment period on the proposed rule closed on May 4, 2020. NMFS received seven unique comment letters during the comment period on the proposed rule. There were three letters from private citizens, two letters from the Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative (PWCC) and West Coast Seafood Processors Association (WCSPA)—organizations representing participants in the nontribal whiting fishery, one letter from the Quinault Indian Nation, and one letter from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). NMFS received one comment from a private citizen in support of the entire action, and has addressed all summarized comments related to specific aspects of the proposed rule below. Comment 1: The PWCC and WCSPA supported the process NMFS used to set the coastwide Pacific whiting TAC, as well as the resulting allocations. Response: NMFS agrees. This was the first time JMC did not reach a bilateral agreement on the coastwide TAC for Pacific whiting. The Agreement between the Governments of the United States and Canada on Pacific Whiting/Hake does not specify a procedure for when the JMC does not agree on a coastwide TAC. Therefore, NMFS followed the procedures identified in the 2006 PO 00000 Frm 00092 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Pacific Whiting Act to set a coastwide TAC. The coastwide TAC of 575,000 mt is well below the default level of F–40 percent and is consistent with the best available scientific information, provisions of the Agreement, and the Whiting Act, and provides adequate opportunity for both Canadian and U.S. fleets, while sustainably managing the Pacific whiting resource. Comment 2: The PWCC and WCSPA commented that it is critical NMFS implement a final rule to set the Pacific whiting allocations rule prior to May 15, 2020, because delays will cause economic harm and significant operational disruption. Response: NMFS recognizes that delays in setting a Pacific whiting allocation in time for the start of the season on May 15, 2020 could impact the Pacific whiting fleet. NMFS worked to implement this final rule as quickly as possible. However, the overall rulemaking process was delayed because the JMC did not reach agreement on the coastwide TAC, and NMFS was unable to publish a final rule before the start of the 2020 Pacific whiting fishery on May 15, 2020. To ensure the Pacific whiting fishery would be able to operate at the start of the season, NMFS used existing regulatory provisions to issue interim Pacific whiting allocations for the Shorebased IFQ Program and the at-sea MS Coop and C/P Coop sectors. NMFS notified these sectors on May 1, 2020, that the interim allocations would be available to fish at the start of the Pacific whiting fishery on May 15, 2020. The interim allocations are based on the lowest E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations value of the coastwide TAC (555,000 mt) analyzed in the proposed rule (84 FR 20578; April 17, 2020). With this final rule, NMFS is allocating additional Pacific whiting to each sector to match the allocations set in this action. Comment 3: The Quinault Indian Nation expressed concern that the language used in the proposed rule mischaracterized the 2020 Pacific whiting tribal allocation to the Treaty Tribes as an allocation exclusively for the Makah Indian Tribe, and requested NMFS change language in the rulemaking to clarify that the allocation is to all four of the Treaty Tribes. Response: NMFS agrees the tribal allocation is an interim, annual allocation to the four Washington coastal Indian tribes, including the Makah Indian Tribe, Quileute Indian Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, and the Hoh Indian Tribe. As with prior tribal Pacific whiting allocations, this final rule is not intended to establish precedent for future Pacific whiting seasons, or for the determination of the total amount of whiting to which the Tribes are entitled under their treaty right. Rather, this rule implements an interim allocation. The long-term tribal treaty amount will be based on further development of scientific information and additional coordination and discussion with and among the coastal tribes and the states of Washington and Oregon. Comment 4: The PWCC commented that it is critical to consider the potential economic impacts, overall and to specific non-tribal sectors, of the proposed allocation, especially because the regulations make reapportionment of tribal whiting to non-tribal sectors dependent upon fishery-wide Chinook salmon bycatch performance. Response: The economic analysis supporting the annual Pacific whiting TAC action outlines the economic impacts of the proposed tribal allocation. The purpose of the tribal allocation is to facilitate the tribes exercising their treaty right to harvest fish in their usual and accustomed fishing areas in U.S. waters. NMFS must take the necessary steps to ensure that this opportunity is available to those tribes. In 1994, the United States formally recognized that the four Washington coastal treaty Indian tribes (Makah, Quileute, Hoh, and Quinault) have treaty rights to fish for groundfish, including Pacific whiting, in the Pacific Ocean, and concluded that, in general terms, the quantification of those rights is 50 percent of the harvestable surplus of groundfish that pass through the tribes usual and accustomed fishing areas. These treaty rights are VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 implemented by the Secretary following the procedures outlined in 50 CFR 660.60. Regulations governing reapportionment give the Secretary discretion, but do not impose an obligation, to reapportion Pacific whiting from the tribal sector of the Pacific whiting fishery to non-tribal sectors. The reapportioning process allows the non-tribal fleet to fish unharvested tribal allocations of Pacific whiting. The economic analysis for this rule does not consider the benefits of reapportioning the tribal allocation, which is consistent with the economic analysis discussed in the 2019 final rule for Pacific whiting (84 FR 20578; May 10, 2019). In the economic analysis for this rule, the benefits from the tribal allocation are assumed to accrue to the tribal sector, and the benefits from the nontribal allocation are assumed to accrue to the non-tribal sectors. Reapportionment flexibility is an additional potential benefit to the nontribal sector, only in years when the tribal sector does not prosecute the entirety of its allocation. In the economic analysis, no portion of the benefits from the tribal allocation are assumed to accrue to the non-tribal sector, which would double-count the value of the benefit of this allocation to the tribal sector. The requirement to consider salmon bycatch as part of reapportionment is a term and condition in the 2017 Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) Biological Opinion on the effects of the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP on listed salmonids. Term and Condition 2c of the Biological Opinion requires that NMFS consider the level of Chinook bycatch when determining whether to reapportion whiting and the Pacific Coast Groundfish regulations were amended to require this consideration (84 FR 20578; May 10, 2019). This consideration does not remove NMFS’s obligation to consider economic impacts to the entities affected by this action. However, because of the unique nature of reapportionment, NMFS’s treaty trust obligations to the Pacific Coast treaty Indian tribes and ESA considerations are the ultimate drivers of that decision, rather than the economic considerations. Comment 5: PWCC commented that economic harm can occur in the nontribal whiting sectors if NMFS does not use the re-apportionment process to effectively balance the needs of the tribal and non-tribal fisheries. PWCC further noted it is important that reapportionment of tribal whiting to the PO 00000 Frm 00093 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 36807 non-tribal sectors include consideration of sector-specific Chinook bycatch and that NMFS provide re-apportionment of tribal whiting to specific non-tribal sectors based on their ability to harvest additional whiting. Response: These management suggestions are outside of the scope of the measure discussed in the proposed rule but could be achieved through the Council process. In most years, NMFS has allocated reapportioned tribal Pacific whiting allocation to the nontribal sectors based on the allocations in the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP (i.e., 34 percent for the C/P Coop; 24 percent for the MS Coop; and 42 percent for the Shorebased IFQ Program). NMFS has also distributed reapportioned tribal whiting to specific non-tribal sectors based on concerns about Chinook salmon bycatch in 2014 (80 FR 7390; February 10, 2015), based on recommendation by the Council. In that reapportionment action, NMFS distributed reapportioned fish to the MS and C/P sectors, but not to the Shorebased IFQ sector. That action was based on voluntary bycatch reduction measures that were taken by the MS and C/P sectors in conjunction with projected higher bycatch rates in the Shorebased IFQ sector, and the fact that the Shorebased IFQ sector had not yet attained its existing allocation. In addition, the regulations now explicitly require NMFS to consider salmon bycatch as part of the reapportionment process, based on a requirement from the 2017 ESA Section 7(a)(2) Biological Opinion on the effects of the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP on listed salmonids (84 FR 20578; May 10, 2019). However, NMFS has only adjusted reapportionment between non-tribal sectors to address salmon bycatch considerations, and has not made adjustments based on other considerations, such as the various nontribal sectors’ ability to harvest reapportioned Pacific whiting. NMFS notes there are many factors than can affect the non-tribal sectors’ ability to harvest reapportioned Pacific whiting. The Council would need to make recommendations on the specific criteria NMFS should use to adjust reapportionment based on these factors. The Council is considering developing management alternatives to increase Pacific whiting utilization in the MS Sector. This may provide an opportunity for other considerations about allocations to non-tribal sectors during the tribal whiting reapportionment process. Comment 6: The PWCC commented that it is critical that re-apportionment E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 36808 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations of tribal whiting to the non-tribal sectors occur no later than September 15th. Response: Current regulations provide NMFS with flexibility in the timing of reapportionment and allow for reapportionment to occur prior to September 15, but do not require reapportionment to happen on or before a specific date. Revisions to the timing of the reapportionment to require it before September 15 are beyond the scope of the action discussed in the proposed rule. NMFS is responsible for consulting with the tribes to ensure that reapportionments, should they occur, will not limit tribal harvest opportunities. As explained in the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), the timing of reapportionment in regulations was intended to allow for the tribal fishery to proceed to a point where it could likely be determined whether the full allocation would be used, while reallocating in time to allow the non-treaty sectors to catch the reallocated fish prior to the onset of winter weather conditions. In some years, the participating tribes may determine prior to September 15 that they will not use a portion of the tribal allocation. As noted in the 2019 final rule for Pacific whiting (84 FR 20578; May 10, 2019), based on a review of reapportionment actions in 2012–2018, it does not appear that the timing of the reapportionment impacted operational decisions during that time period. For reference, in 2012 the non-tribal sector caught 24,142 mt more than its initial allocation, of 28,000 mt reapportioned on October 4. In 2013, after a 30,000 mt reallocation on September 18 (16 days earlier than in 2012), the non-tribal fishery caught 24,146 mt more than its initial allocation. The 16-day earlier reapportionment yielded 4 mt more catch (valued at $1,210 in real dollars). In 2014, a 25,000 mt initial reapportionment on September 12 resulted in only 4,564 mt attained over the initial non-tribal allocation. From 2015–2018, the non-tribal fishery as a whole did not catch its initial allocation, which implies that the timing of reallocations did not likely impact operational decisions during that period. NMFS notes that in 2019, reapportionment action occurred on September 13, 2019. Comment 7: The PWCC and WCSPA support the increase to the 2020 shortbelly rockfish ACL. They pointed to the strong justification in proposed rule and draft Environmental Assessment regarding the necessity of this action, the negligible environmental and ecosystem impacts of the increase VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 to the shortbelly rockfish ACL, and the economic impacts of potential closure. Response: NMFS agrees and notes increasing the 2020 ACL for shortbelly rockfish to 3,000 mt accommodates incidental bycatch of the shortbelly rockfish stock given recent high bycatch in groundfish trawl fisheries, while continuing to minimize bycatch and discourage development of a targeted fishery for shortbelly rockfish. The increase is based on the best scientific information available as described in the Analytical Document and Environmental Assessment. Comment 8: CDFW commented in support of eliminating the 2020 ACT of 6 mt for cowcod south of 40°10′ N latitude and reducing the research setaside amount to 1 mt. Response: NMFS agrees and notes that low catch limits of cowcod have prevented the IFQ bottom trawlers from accessing healthy groundfish stocks and, in some years, have resulted in trawl vessels ending their fishing season early. The 2019 cowcod assessment indicates stock biomass has exceeded the rebuilding target. However, because of the timing of the biennial groundfish specification cycle, the fleet would not benefit from less restrictive catch limits until 2021. This measure reduces the risk that vessels in the trawl IFQ bottom trawl fishery reach their annual vessel limit for cowcod in 2020 and have to cease fishing in the IFQ bottom trawl fishery for the remainder of the year. Comment 9: CDFW commented that in addition to benefits of the trawl sector, eliminating the cowcod ACT may positively benefit non-trawl sectors because this change also increases the non-trawl cowcod allocation. The increase to the non-trawl allocation reduces the likelihood of the non-trawl fisheries exceeding this new limit. Response: NMFS agrees there are benefits to both the trawl and non-trawl sectors of eliminating the ACT of 6 mt for cowcod south of 40°10′ N latitude and reducing the research set-aside amount to 1 mt. NMFS notes this information was included in the RIR/ IRFA and was considered by the Council and NMFS in the decisionmaking process. Comment 10: A private citizen commented that if NMFS wants to loosen restrictions on fishing, NMFS needs science, not political pressure, to prove fish stocks are back to full capacity and need to keep monitoring the situation. Response: NMFS is committed to following Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standards, including National Standard 2 which states conservation and management measures shall be PO 00000 Frm 00094 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 based on the best scientific information available. The actions in this rule are based on the most up-to-date stock assessments of Pacific whiting, cowcod south of 40°10′ N lat. and shortbelly rockfish, as well as recent fisheryindependent survey data, California Current Ecosystem Status Reports, and monitoring of fishery operations off the West Coast. NMFS is also committed to following mandates including the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., as implemented by the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500 through 1508), which requires that Federal agencies include in their decision-making processes appropriate and careful consideration of all environmental effects of proposed actions, analyze potential environmental effects of proposed actions and their alternatives, avoid or minimize adverse effects of proposed actions, and restore and enhance environmental quality to the extent practicable. Changes From the Proposed Rule No substantive changes from the proposed rule were made based on comments NMFS received. NMFS is making a technical correction to remove incorrect footnotes in Table 2B to Part 660, Subpart C consistent with the final rule for Amendment 21–4 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP, published December 17, 2019 (84 FR 68799), that changed the within-trawl allocation structure for darkblotched rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and widow rockfish. This correction also brings the table and footnotes into consistency with existing regulations concerning trawl and non-trawl allocations at § 660.55(c). Classification The Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, determined that the final rule is necessary for the conservation and management of the Pacific whiting and Pacific coast groundfish fisheries and that it is consistent with section 304(b)(1)(A) and 305(d), and other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP, and other applicable laws. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the NMFS Assistant Administrator finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness for this final rule because such a delay would be contrary to the public interest. If this final rule were delayed by 30 days, Pacific coast groundfish fishermen would not be able to fish under the E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations revised, increased, catch limits for Pacific whiting, shortbelly rockfish and cowcod south of 40°10′ N lat. for that time period, and not be able to realize the full level of economic opportunity this rule provides. Waiving the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness will allow this final rule to more fully benefit the fishery through increased fishing opportunities as described in the Integrated Analysis and preamble of this rule. In addition, because this rule increases catch limits for Pacific whiting, shortbelly rockfish and cowcod, it relieves a restriction, and therefore also falls within the 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) exception to the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness requirement. The Pacific whiting fishery season began fishing on May 15, 2020 under interim allocations based on the lowest coastwide TAC analyzed in the proposed rule. This final rule implements a higher TAC for Pacific whiting and implementing the rule upon publication provides the whiting fleet more opportunity and greater flexibility to harvest the optimal yield. Additionally, the increased shortbelly rockfish ACL is critical to implement immediately because the Pacific whiting fishery is underway and is encountering high levels of shortbelly rockfish bycatch. The higher ACL for shortbelly rockfish implemented with this rule allows the Pacific whiting fishery access to a higher bycatch allocation for a longer duration of the fishing season and allows them to make business plans with the higher allocation. Finally, removal of the cowcod ACT and decrease of the research set-aside removes current constraints on the groundfish fishery in that area. Waiving the 30-day delay in effectiveness will not have a negative impact on any entities, as there are no new compliance requirements or other burdens placed on the fishing community with this rule. Making this rule effective immediately would also serve the best interests of the public because it will allow for the longest possible fishing season for Pacific whiting and cowcod south of 40°10′ N, and therefore the best possible economic outcome for those whose livelihoods depend on this fishery. Because the 30-day delay in effectiveness would potentially cause significant financial harm without providing any corresponding benefits, this final rule is effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this final rule is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. This final rule is not an VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis NMFS published a proposed rule on April 17, 2020 (85 FR 21372), for the 2020 Harvest Specifications for Pacific Whiting, shortbelly rockfish, and cowcod, and 2020 tribal allocation for Pacific whiting. An IRFA was prepared and summarized in the Classification section of the preamble to the proposed rule. The comment period on the proposed rule ended on May 4, 2020. NMFS received seven comment letters on the proposed rule. The Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) did not file any comments on the IRFA or the proposed rule. The description of this action, its purpose, and its legal basis are described in the preamble to the proposed rule and are not repeated here. A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was prepared and incorporates the IRFA and response to the public comments, which are summarized in the Comments and Responses section of this final rule. NMFS also prepared a RIR for this action. A copy of the RIR/ FRFA is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the FRFA, per the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 604 follows. Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the term ‘‘small entities’’ includes small businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions. The SBA has established size criteria for entities involved in the fishing industry that qualify as small businesses. A business involved in fish harvesting is a small business if it is independently owned and operated and not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates) and if it has combined annual receipts, not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide (see 80 FR 81194; December 29, 2015). A wholesale business servicing the fishing industry is a small business if it employs 100 or fewer persons on a full time, part time, temporary, or other basis, at all its affiliated operations worldwide. A seafood processor is a small business if it is independently owned and operated, not dominant in its field of operation, and employs 750 or fewer persons on a full time, part time, temporary, or other basis, at all its affiliated operations worldwide. For purposes of rulemaking, NMFS is also applying the seafood processor standard to catcher processors because Pacific whiting CatcherProcessors (C/Ps) earn the majority of the revenue from processed seafood product. PO 00000 Frm 00095 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 36809 A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public in Response to the IRFA, a Summary of the Agency’s Assessment of Such Issues, and a Statement of Any Changes Made in the Final Rule as a Result of Such Comments NMFS received comments from the PWCC, an organization representing the non-tribal sector of the Pacific whiting fishery, reiterating comments submitted last year regarding the economic importance of the re-apportionment of unharvested tribal allocations to the non-tribal fishery, and concerns regarding the timing and considerations driving the re-apportionment process. Our response to the comments received on the proposed rule, including those that commented on the economic analyses summarized in the IRFA, can be found in the Comment and Response section of this rule. As outlined in that section, Comment 4 discusses the economic analysis of the proposed allocation, especially given the requirement to consider Chinook salmon bycatch during the reapportionment process. Comment 5 discusses the importance of the reapportionment process to balance the needs of the tribal and non-tribal fisheries as well as sector-specific considerations when re-apportioning tribal whiting to non-tribal fisheries. Comment 6 discusses the timing of reapportionment of tribal whiting to the non-tribal sectors. Detailed responses are provided to each of these specific comments in the preamble of this rule and are not repeated here. There were no other comments directly related to the IRFA; the Chief Counsel for the Office of Advocacy of the SBA did not file any comments. No changes to the proposed rule measures were necessary as a result of these public comments. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities To Which the Rule Applies, and Estimate of Economic Impacts by Entity Size and Industry This rule affect how Pacific whiting is allocated to the following sectors/ programs: Tribal, Shorebased IFQ Program Trawl Fishery, MS Coop Program Whiting At-sea Trawl Fishery, and C/P Coop Program Whiting At-sea Trawl Fishery. The amount of Pacific whiting allocated to these sectors is based on the U.S. TAC. NMFS expects one tribal entity to fish for Pacific whiting in 2020. Tribes are not considered small entities for the purposes of RFA. Impacts to tribes are nevertheless considered in this analysis. As of January 2020, the Shorebased IFQ Program is composed of 167 Quota E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 36810 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Share (QS) permits/accounts (134 of which were allocated whiting quota pounds), and 41 first receivers, 2 of which are designated as whiting-only receivers and 15 that may receive both whiting and non-whiting. These regulations also directly affect participants in the MS Co-op Program, a general term to describe the limited access program that applies to eligible harvesters and processors in the MS sector of the Pacific whiting at-sea trawl fishery. This program currently consists of 6 MS processor permits, and a catcher vessel fleet currently composed of a single co-op, with 34 Mothership/ Catcher Vessel (MS/CV) endorsed permits (with three permits each having two catch history assignments). These regulations also directly affect the C/P Co-op Program, composed of 10 C/P endorsed permits owned by three companies that have formed a single coop. These co-ops are considered large entities from several perspectives; they have participants that are large entities and have in total more than 750 employees worldwide including affiliates. Although there are three nontribal sectors, many companies participate in two sectors and some participate in all three sectors. As part of the permit application processes for the non-tribal fisheries, based on a review of the SBA size criteria, permit applicants are asked if they considered themselves a ‘‘small’’ business, and they are asked to provide detailed ownership information. Data on employment worldwide, including affiliates, are not available for these companies, which generally operate in Alaska as well as the West Coast and may have operations in other countries as well. NMFS has limited entry permit holders self-report size status. For 2020, all 10 C/P permits reported they are not small businesses, as did 8 MS/CV. There is substantial, but not complete overlap between permit ownership and vessel ownership so there may be a small number of additional small entity vessel owners who will be impacted by this rule. After accounting for cross participation, multiple QS permit/account holders, and affiliation through ownership, NMFS estimates that there are 106 nontribal entities directly affected by these regulations, 85 of which are considered ‘‘small’’ businesses. This rule allocates Pacific whiting between tribal and non-tribal harvesters (a mixture of small and large businesses). Tribal fisheries consist of a mixture of fishing activities that are similar to the activities that non-tribal fisheries undertake. Tribal harvests may be delivered to both shoreside plants VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 and motherships for processing. These processing facilities also process fish harvested by non-tribal fisheries. The effect of the tribal allocation on nontribal fisheries will depend on the level of tribal harvests relative to their allocation and the reapportionment process. If the tribes do not harvest their entire allocation, there are opportunities during the year to reapportion unharvested tribal amounts to the nontribal fleets. For example, in 2019 NMFS reapportioned 40,000 mt of the original 77,251 mt tribal allocation. This reapportionment was based on conversations with the tribes and the best information available at the time, which indicated that this amount would not limit tribal harvest opportunities for the remainder of the year. The reapportioning process allows unharvested tribal allocations of Pacific whiting to be fished by the non-tribal fleets, benefitting both large and small entities. The revised Pacific whiting allocations for 2019 following the reapportionment were: Tribal 37,251 mt, C/P Co-op 136,912 mt; MS Co-op 96,644 mt; and Shorebased IFQ Program 169,126 mt. The prices for Pacific whiting are largely determined by the world market because most of the Pacific whiting harvested in the U.S. is exported. The U.S. Pacific whiting TAC is highly variable, as have subsequent harvests and ex-vessel revenues. For the years 2015 to 2019, the total Pacific whiting fishery (tribal and non-tribal) averaged harvests of approximately 281,205 mt annually. The 2019 U.S. non-tribal fishery had a catch of approximately 312,500 mt, and the tribal fishery landed approximately 4,000 mt. Impacts to tribal catcher vessels who elect to participate in the tribal fishery are measured with an estimate of exvessel revenue. In lieu of more complete information on tribal deliveries, total exvessel revenue is estimated with the 2019 average shoreside ex-vessel price of Pacific whiting, which was $200 per mt. At that price, the 2020 tribal allocation of 74,342 mt would have an ex-vessel value of $14.9 million. Shortbelly Rockfish The rule primarily affects limited entry trawl vessels, especially midwater trawl vessels targeting Pacific whiting and semi-pelagic rockfish (i.e., nonwhiting) north of 40°10′ N latitude given the sectors and gear experiencing the highest bycatch of shortbelly rockfish in recent years. The entities fishing for Pacific whiting (described in detail above), and the 14–20 vessels fishing in the non-whiting midwater trawl fishery in 2017–2018, would be affected. The PO 00000 Frm 00096 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 shortbelly rockfish alternative will have neutral to positive impacts for limited entry trawl participants fishing in the Pacific whiting and non-whiting midwater fisheries. Cowcod South of 40°10′ N Latitude The rule directly impacts two groups: Quota share owners of cowcod south of 40°10′ N latitude and catcher vessel owners who operate vessels south of 40°10′ N latitude and have the potential to encounter cowcod. There are 62 entities that own 2020 cowcod quota and 7 vessels that caught cowcod south of 40°10′ N latitude in 2019 that would be impacted by this rule. The cowcod alternative will have neutral to positive impacts for limited entry trawl participants who own quota for this species and/or fish south of 40°10′ N latitude. Quota owners that are able to sell increased quota amounts may benefit. Most IFQ vessels do not operate south of 40°10′ N latitude and would experience no impacts from the preferred alternative. Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) Determination of No Significant Impact NMFS determined this rule does not adversely affect small entities. The reapportioning process allows unharvested tribal allocations of Pacific whiting, fished by small entities, to be fished by the non-tribal fleets, benefitting both large and small entities. The shortbelly and cowcod measures will assist small entities by reducing the risk of early closures due to bycatch. The shortbelly rockfish and cowcod measures are temporary and will be in effect for less than 1 year. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements There are no reporting, recordkeeping or other compliance requirements in the final rule. No Federal rules have been identified that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this action. Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes Pacific Whiting This action determines the 2020 coastwide TAC of 575,000 mt, with a corresponding U.S. TAC of 424,810 mt. NMFS considered a range of alternatives for the Pacific whiting coastwide TAC, including a lower coastwide TAC of 555,000 mt and higher coastwide TACs of 597,500 mt and 666,480 mt. The lower coastwide TAC (555,000 mt) E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations would have greater economic impacts for 2020 than the coastwide TAC of 575,000 mt. The higher coastwide TACs considered in the range (597,500 mt and 666,480 mt) would have less economic impact for 2020. However, 2020 stock assessment projections indicate these higher catch levels (e.g. 597,500 mt and 666,480 mt) may result in near-term stock biomass declines below target levels. This is contrary to the Whiting Act and Agreement, which requires sustainable management of the Pacific whiting resource. NMFS considered two alternatives for the tribal allocation action: The ‘‘NoAction’’ and the ‘‘Proposed Action.’’ NMFS did not consider a broader range of alternatives to the proposed tribal allocation. The tribal allocation is based primarily on the requests of the tribes. These requests reflect the level of participation in the fishery that will allow them to exercise their treaty right to fish for Pacific whiting. Under the Action alternative, NMFS set the tribal allocation percentage at 17.5 percent, as requested by the tribes. This would yield a tribal allocation of 74,342 mt for 2020. Consideration of a percentage lower than the tribal request of 17.5 percent is not appropriate in this instance. As a matter of policy, NMFS has historically supported the harvest levels requested by the tribes. Based on the information available to NMFS, the tribal request is within their tribal treaty rights. A higher percentage would arguably also be within the scope of the treaty rights. However, a higher percentage would unnecessarily limit the non-tribal fishery. Under the No-Action alternative, NMFS would not make an allocation to the tribal sector. This alternative was considered, but the regulatory framework provides for a tribal allocation on an annual basis only. Therefore, the no-action alternative would result in no allocation of Pacific whiting to the tribal sector in 2020, which would be inconsistent with NMFS’s responsibility to manage the fishery consistent with the tribes’ treaty rights. Given that there is a tribal request for allocation in 2020, this alternative received no further consideration. Shortbelly Rockfish This action establishes the 2020 ACL of 3,000 mt. The Council and NMFS considered two additional alternatives for shortbelly rockfish: No action and specifying a 2020 ACL of 4,184 mt. Under the no action alternative, NMFS would not change the 2020 ACL for shortbelly rockfish. This no action alternative has the highest risk of an VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 early fishery closure and lost revenue for Pacific whiting and limited entry non-whiting midwater trawl fisheries and communities. The range of predicted impacts in terms of foregone income is $4.6 million to $175.2 million depending on whether there is a late season closure in December or an earlier closure in June. The measure for shortbelly rockfish would reduce the risk of an early closure for midwater trawl fisheries due to the possibility of high bycatch of shortbelly rockfish in 2020, and avoid the adverse economic impacts to West Coast fishing communities that would result from such closures or constraints. The measure to establish the 2020 ACL at 3,000 mt, rather than the alternative of 4,184 mt, should be sufficient to avoid constraining the midwater trawl fishery while continuing to ensure more than adequate shortbelly rockfish as forage. Cowcod South of 40°10′ N Latitude This action eliminates the 2020 ACT of 6 mt for cowcod south of 40°10′ N latitude and reduces the research setaside amount to 1 mt. The measure increases the annual vessel limit for cowcod from 858 lbs (0.4 mt) to 1,264 lbs (0.6 mt). This measure meets the stated purpose and need to reduce the risk that IFQ vessels south of 40°10′ N latitude will reach their individual vessel limits of cowcod in 2020 and have to cease fishing in the IFQ fishery for the remainder of the year, which would result in adverse economic impacts on those vessels and fishing communities in the area. The Council and NMFS considered no action and alternatives to provide relief on limited entry trawl participants fishing south of 40°10′ N latitude, including removing the ACT and varying adjustments to the research setaside amounts. Under the no action alternative, NMFS would not change the ACT or research set-aside amounts. This no action alternative would result in potential loss of revenue if vessels reach their cowcod individual vessel limit and are required to cease fishing for the remainder of the year. The Council considered an alternative to remove the ACT of 6 mt and reduce the research set-aside to 0.5 mt. This alternative may have resulted in a lesser economic impact on vessels and fishing communities, but it did not provide an adequate amount of cowcod for research. Small Entity Compliance Guide Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is PO 00000 Frm 00097 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 36811 required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as ‘‘small entity compliance guides.’’ The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of this and the related 2019–2020 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures for the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery (83 FR 63970; December 12, 2018) rulemaking process, a small entity compliance guide was sent to stakeholders, and copies of the final rule and guides (i.e., information bulletins) are available from NMFS at the following website: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/pacificwhiting#management. Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments Pursuant to Executive Order 13175, this final rule was developed after meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials from the area covered by the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP. Under the MagnusonStevens Act at 16 U.S.C. 1852(b)(5), one of the voting members of the Pacific Council must be a representative of an Indian tribe with federally recognized fishing rights from the area of the Council’s jurisdiction. In addition, regulations implementing the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP establish a procedure by which the tribes with treaty fishing rights in the area covered by the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP request new allocations or regulations specific to the tribes, in writing, before the first of the two meetings at which the Council considers groundfish management measures. The regulations at 50 CFR 660.324(d) further state, ‘‘the Secretary will develop tribal allocations and regulations under this paragraph in consultation with the affected tribe(s) and, insofar as possible, with tribal consensus.’’ The tribal management measures in this final rule have been developed following these procedures. With this final rule, NMFS, acting on behalf of the Secretary, determined that the FMP is implemented in a manner consistent with treaty rights of four Treaty Tribes to fish in their ‘‘usual and accustomed grounds and stations’’ in common with non-tribal citizens. United States v. Washington, 384 F. Supp. 313 (W.D. Wash. 1974). List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, Indian Fisheries. E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 36812 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Dated: June 11, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. PART 660–-FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES § 660.50 Pacific Coast treaty Indian fisheries. * 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: ■ For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. 2. In § 660.50, revise paragraph (f)(4) to read as follows: ■ * * * * (f) * * * (4) Pacific whiting. The tribal allocation for 2020 will be 74,342 mt. * * * * * ■ 3. Revise table 2a to part 660, subpart C, to read as follows: TABLE 2a TO PART 660, SUBPART C—2020, AND BEYOND, SPECIFICATION OF OFL, ABC, ACL, ACT AND FISHERY HARVEST GUIDELINES [Weights in metric tons] Stocks/stock complexes Area OFL ABC ACL a Fishery HG b COWCOD c ......................................................... COWCOD ........................................................... COWCOD ........................................................... YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH d ............................... Arrowtooth Flounder e ......................................... Big Skate f ........................................................... Black Rockfish g .................................................. Black Rockfish h .................................................. Bocaccio i ............................................................ Cabezon j ............................................................ California Scorpionfish k ..................................... Canary Rockfish l ................................................ Chilipepper Rockfish m ....................................... Darkblotched Rockfish n ..................................... Dover Sole° ........................................................ English Sole p ..................................................... Lingcod q ............................................................. Lingcod r ............................................................. Longnose Skate s ............................................... Longspine Thornyhead t ..................................... Longspine Thornyhead u .................................... Pacific Cod v ....................................................... Pacific Whiting w ................................................. Pacific Ocean Perch x ......................................... Petrale Sole y ...................................................... Sablefish z ........................................................... Sablefish aa ......................................................... Shortbelly Rockfish bb ......................................... Shortspine Thornyhead cc ................................... Shortspine Thornyhead dd .................................. Spiny Dogfish ee ................................................. Splitnose Rockfish ff ............................................ Starry Flounder gg ............................................... Widow Rockfish hh .............................................. Yellowtail Rockfish ii ............................................ Black Rockfish/Blue Rockfish/Deacon Rockfish jj Cabezon/Kelp Greenling kk ................................. Cabezon/Kelp Greenling ll .................................. Nearshore Rockfish mm ....................................... Shelf Rockfish nn ................................................. Slope Rockfish oo ................................................ Nearshore Rockfish pp ........................................ Shelf Rockfish qq ................................................. Slope Rockfish rr ................................................. Other Flatfish ss .................................................. Other Fish tt ........................................................ S of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... (Conception) ..................................................... (Monterey) ......................................................... Coastwide ......................................................... Coastwide ......................................................... Coastwide ......................................................... California (S of 42° N lat.) ................................ Washington (N of 46°16′ N lat.) ....................... S of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... California (S of 42° N lat.) ................................ S of 34°27′ N lat ............................................... Coastwide ......................................................... S of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... Coastwide ......................................................... Coastwide ......................................................... Coastwide ......................................................... N of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... S of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... Coastwide ......................................................... N of 34°27′ N lat ............................................... S of 34°27′ N lat ............................................... Coastwide ......................................................... Coastwide ......................................................... N of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... Coastwide ......................................................... N of 36° N lat .................................................... S of 36° N lat .................................................... Coastwide ......................................................... N of 34°27′ N lat ............................................... S of 34°27′ N lat ............................................... Coastwide ......................................................... S of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... Coastwide ......................................................... Coastwide ......................................................... N of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... Oregon (Between 46°16′ N lat. and 42° N lat.) Oregon (Between 46°16′ N lat. and 42° N lat.) Washington (N of 46°16′ N lat.) ....................... N of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... N of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... N of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... S of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... S of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... S of 40°10′ N lat ............................................... Coastwide ......................................................... Coastwide ......................................................... 76 62 13 84 15,306 541 341 311 2,104 153 331 1,431 2,521 853 92,048 11,101 4,768 977 2,474 3,901 .............. 3,200 666,458 4,632 2,976 8,648 .............. 6,950 3,063 .............. 2,472 1,810 652 11,714 6,261 670 216 12 92 2,302 1,873 1,322 1,919 855 8,202 286 68 57 11 77 12,750 494 326 297 2,011 146 307 1,368 2,410 815 87,998 10,135 4,558 934 2,365 3,250 ............ 2,221 (w) 4,229 2,845 7,896 ............ 5,789 2,551 ............ 2,059 1,731 452 11,199 5,986 611 204 10 82 2,048 1,732 1,165 1,626 743 6,041 239 10 NA NA 49 12,750 494 326 297 2,011 146 307 1,368 2,410 815 50,000 10,135 4,541 869 2,000 2,470 780 1,600 (w) 4,229 2,845 5,723 2,032 3,000 1,669 883 2,059 1,731 452 11,199 5,986 611 204 10 82 2,048 1,732 1,163 1,625 743 6,041 239 9 NA NA 43 10,655 452 325 279 1,965 146 305 1,301 2,325 781 48,404 9,919 4,263 858 1,852 2,420 779 1,094 348,968 4,207 2,524 See Table 2c 2,028 2,983 1,604 882 1,726 1,714 433 10,951 4,941 609 204 10 79 1,971 1,651 1,159 1,546 723 5,792 230 a Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs) and harvest guidelines (HGs) are specified as total catch values. HGs means the HG or quota after subtracting Pacific Coast treaty Indian tribes allocations and projected catch, projected research catch, deductions for fishing mortality in non-groundfish fisheries, and deductions for EFPs from the ACL or ACT. c Cowcod south of 40°10′ N lat. 1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate EFP fishing (less than 0.1 mt) and research activity, resulting in a fishery HG of 9 mt. Any additional mortality in research activities will be deducted from the ACL. d Yelloweye rockfish. The 49 mt ACL is based on the current rebuilding plan with a target year to rebuild of 2029 and an SPR harvest rate of 65 percent. 6.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (2.3 mt), the incidental open access fishery (0.62 mt), EFP catch (0.24 mt) and research catch (2.92 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 43 mt. The non-trawl HG is 39.5 mt. The non-nearshore HG is 2.1 mt and the nearshore HG is 6.2 mt. Recreational HGs are: 10.2 mt (Washington); 9.1 mt (Oregon); and 11.9 mt (California). In addition, there are the following ACTs: Non-nearshore (1.7 mt), nearshore (4.9 mt), Washington recreational (8.1 mt), Oregon recreational (7.2 mt), and California recreational (9.4 mt). e Arrowtooth flounder. 2,094.9 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (2,041 mt), the incidental open access fishery (40.8 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (13 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 10,655 mt. b Fishery VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00098 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations 36813 f Big skate. 41.9 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (15 mt), the incidental open access fishery (21.3 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (5.5 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 452 mt. g Black rockfish (California). 1.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate EFP fishing (1.0 mt) and the incidental open access fishery (0.3 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 325 mt. h Black rockfish (Washington). 18.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (18 mt) and research catch (0.1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 279 mt. i Bocaccio south of 40°10′ N lat. The stock is managed with stock-specific harvest specifications south of 40°10′ N lat. and within the Minor Shelf Rockfish complex north of 40°10′ N lat. 46.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (0.5 mt), EFP catch (40 mt) and research catch (5.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,965 mt. The California recreational fishery has an HG of 827.2 mt. j Cabezon (California). 0.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery, resulting in a fishery HG of 146 mt. k California scorpionfish south of 34°27′ N lat. 2.4 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (2.2 mt) and research catch (0.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 305 mt. l Canary rockfish. 67.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (50 mt), the incidental open access fishery (1.3 mt), EFP catch (8 mt), and research catch (7.8 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,301 mt. Recreational HGs are: 44.3 mt (Washington); 66.5 mt (Oregon); and 119.7 mt (California). m Chilipepper rockfish south of 40°10′ N lat. Chilipepper are managed with stock-specific harvest specifications south of 40°10′ N lat. and within the Minor Shelf Rockfish complex north of 40°10′ N lat. 84.9 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (11.5 mt), EFP fishing (60 mt), and research catch (13.4 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 2,325 mt. n Darkblotched rockfish. 33.8 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (0.2 mt), the incidental open access fishery (24.5 mt), EFP catch (0.6 mt), and research catch (8.5 mt) resulting in a fishery HG of 781 mt. o Dover sole. 1,595.6 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (1,497 mt), the incidental open access fishery (49.3 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (49.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 48,404 mt. p English sole. 216.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (200 mt), the incidental open access fishery (8.1 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (8 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 9,919 mt. q Lingcod north of 40°10′ N lat. 278 mt is deducted from the ACL for the Tribal fishery (250 mt), the incidental open access fishery (9.8 mt), EFP catch (1.6 mt) and research catch (16.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 4,263 mt. r Lingcod south of 40°10′ N lat. 11.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (8.1 mt) and research catch (3.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 858 mt. s Longnose skate. 148.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (130 mt), incidental open access fishery (5.7 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), and research catch (12.5 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,852 mt. t Longspine thornyhead. 50.4 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (30 mt), the incidental open access fishery (6.2 mt), and research catch (14.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 2,420 mt. u Longspine thornyhead south of 34°27′ N lat. 1.4 mt is deducted from the ACL to research catch, resulting in a fishery HG of 779 mt. v Pacific cod. 506.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (500 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), research catch (5.5 mt), and the incidental open access fishery (0.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,094 mt. w Pacific whiting. The 2020 OFL of 666,458 mt is based on the 2020 assessment with an F40% of FMSY proxy. The 2020 coastwide adjusted Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is 575,000 mt. The U.S. TAC is 73.88 percent of the coastwide TAC. The 2020 adjusted U.S. TAC is 424,810 mt (367,202 mt unadjusted TAC + 57,608 mt carryover adjustment). From the adjusted U.S. TAC, 74,342 mt is deducted to accommodate the Tribal fishery, and 1,500 mt is deducted to accommodate research and bycatch in other fisheries, resulting in a 2020 fishery HG of 348,968 mt. The TAC for Pacific whiting is established under the provisions of the Agreement with Canada on Pacific Hake/Whiting and the Pacific Whiting Act of 2006, 16 U.S.C. 7001–7010, and the international exception applies. Therefore, no ABC or ACL values are provided for Pacific whiting. x Pacific ocean perch north of 40°10′ N lat. 22.4 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (9.2 mt), the incidental open access fishery (10 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (3.1 mt)-resulting in a fishery HG of 4,207 mt. y Petrale sole. 320.6 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (290 mt), the incidental open access fishery (6.4 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), and research catch (24.1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 2,524 mt. z Sablefish north of 36° N lat. The 40–10 adjustment is applied to the ABC to derive a coastwide ACL value because the stock is in the precautionary zone. This coastwide ACL value is not specified in regulations. The coastwide ACL value is apportioned north and south of 36° N lat., using the 2003–2014 average estimated swept area biomass from the NMFS NWFSC trawl survey, with 73.8 percent apportioned north of 36° N lat. and 26.2 percent apportioned south of 36° N lat. The northern ACL is 5,723 mt and is reduced by 572 mt for the Tribal allocation (10 perceN of the ACL north of 36° N lat.). The 572 mt Tribal allocation is reduced by 1.5 percent to account for discard mortality. Detailed sablefish allocations are shown in Table 2c. aa Sablefish south of 36° N lat. The ACL for the area south of 36° N lat. is 2,032 mt (26.2 percent of the calculated coastwide ACL value). 4.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (1.8 mt) and research catch (2.4 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 2,028 mt. bb Shortbelly rockfish. 17.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (8.9 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), and research catch (8.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 2,983 mt. cc Shortspine thornyhead north of 34°27′ N lat. 65.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (50 mt), the incidental open access fishery (4.7 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), and research catch (10.5 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,604 mt for the area north of 34°27′ N lat. dd Shortspine thornyhead south of 34°27′ N lat. 1.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (0.5 mt) and research catch (0.7 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 882 mt for the area south of 34°27′ N lat. ee Spiny dogfish. 333 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (275 mt), the incidental open access fishery (22.6 mt), EFP catch (1.1 mt), and research catch (34.3 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,726 mt. ff Splitnose rockfish south of 40°10′ N lat. Splitnose rockfish in the north is managed in the Slope Rockfish complex and with stock-specific harvest specifications south of 40°10′ N lat. 16.6 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (5.8 mt), research catch (9.3 mt) and EFP catch (1.5 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,714 mt. gg Starry flounder. 18.8 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (2 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), research catch (0.6 mt), and the incidental open access fishery (16.1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 433 mt. hh Widow rockfish. 248.4 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (200 mt), the incidental open access fishery (3.1 mt), EFP catch (28 mt) and research catch (17.3 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 10,951 mt. ii Yellowtail rockfish north of 40°10′ N lat. 1,045.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (1,000 mt), the incidental open access fishery (4.5 mt), EFP catch (20 mt) and research catch (20.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 4,941 mt. jj Black rockfishBlue rockfishDeacon rockfish (Oregon). 1.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (0.3 mt) and EFP catch (0.9 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 609 mt. kk CabezonKelp greenling (Oregon). 0.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate EFP catch, resulting in a fishery HG of 204 mt. ll CabezonKelp greenling (Washington). There are no deductions from the ACL so the fishery HG is equal to the ACL of 10 mt. mm Nearshore Rockfish north of 40°10′ N lat. 2.8 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (1.5 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), research catch (0.3), and the incidental open access fishery (0.9 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 79 mt. nn Shelf Rockfish north of 40°10′ N lat. 76.9 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (30 mt), the incidental open access fishery (17.7 mt), EFP catch (4.5 mt), and research catch (24.7 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,971 mt. oo Slope Rockfish north of 40°10′ N lat. 80.8 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (36 mt), the incidental open access fishery (21.7 mt), EFP catch (1.5 mt), and research catch (21.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,651 mt. pp Nearshore Rockfish south of 40°10′ N lat. 4.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (1.4 mt) and research catch (2.7 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,159 mt. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:16 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00099 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 36814 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations qq Shelf Rockfish south of 40°10′ N lat. 79.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (4.6 mt), EFP catch (60 mt), and research catch (14.5 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,546 mt. rr Slope Rockfish south of 40°10′ N lat. 20.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (16.9 mt), EFP catch (1 mt), and research catch (2.3 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 723 mt. Blackgill rockfish has a stock-specific HG for the entire groundfish fishery south of 40°10′ N lat. set equal to the species’ contribution to the 40–10-adjusted ACL. Harvest of blackgill rockfish in all groundfish fisheries south of 40°10′ N lat. counts against this HG of 159 mt. ss Other Flatfish. The Other Flatfish complex is comprised of flatfish species managed in the PCGFMP that are not managed with stock-specific OFLs/ABCs/ACLs. MoS of the species in the Other Flatfish complex are unassessed and include: Butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, Pacific sanddab, rock sole, sand sole, and rex sole. 249.5 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (60 mt), the incidental open access fishery (161.6 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (27.8 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 5,792 mt. tt Other Fish. The Other Fish complex is comprised of kelp greenling off California and leopard shark coastwide. 8.9 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (8.8 mt) and research catch (0.1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 230 mt. 4. Revise table 2b to part 660, subpart C, to read as follows: ■ TABLE 2b TO PART 660, SUBPART C—2020, AND BEYOND, ALLOCATIONS BY SPECIES OR SPECIES GROUP [Weight in metric tons] Stocks/stock complexes Fishery HG or ACT a Area Arrowtooth flounder ............. Big skate a ........................... Bocaccio a ........................... Canary rockfish a ................. Chilipepper rockfish ............ COWCOD a ......................... Darkblotched rockfish ......... Dover sole ........................... English sole ......................... Lingcod ................................ Lingcod ................................ Longnose skate a ................ Longspine thornyhead ........ Pacific cod ........................... Pacific whiting b ................... Pacific ocean perch ............ Petrale sole ......................... Coastwide ........................... Coastwide ........................... S of 40°10′ N lat ................. Coastwide ........................... S of 40°10′ N lat ................. S of 40°10′ N lat ................. Coastwide ........................... Coastwide ........................... Coastwide ........................... N of 40′10° N lat ................ S of 40′10° N lat ................. Coastwide ........................... N of 34°27′ N lat ................ Coastwide ........................... Coastwide ........................... N of 40°10′ N lat ................ Coastwide ........................... 10,655.1 452.1 1,964.9 1,300.9 2,325.1 9.0 781.2 48,404.4 9,918.8 4,263.0 857.7 1,851.7 2,419.6 1,093.8 348,968 4,206.6 2,524.4 Sablefish ............................. N of 36° N lat ..................... NA Sablefish ............................. Shortspine thornyhead ........ Shortspine thornyhead ........ Splitnose rockfish ................ Starry flounder .................... Widow rockfish .................... YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH .. Yellowtail rockfish ............... Minor Shelf Rockfish North Minor Shelf Rockfish South Minor Slope Rockfish North Minor Slope Rockfish South Other Flatfish ...................... S of 36° N lat ..................... N of 34°27′ N lat ................ S of 34°27′ N lat ................. S of 40°10′ N lat ................. Coastwide ........................... Coastwide ........................... Coastwide ........................... N of 40°10′ N lat ................ N of 40°10′ N lat ................ S of 40°10′ N lat ................. N of 40°10′ N lat ................ S of 40°10′ N lat ................. Coastwide ........................... 2,027.8 1,603.7 881.8 1,714.4 433.2 10,950.6 42.9 4,940.9 1,971.1 1,545.9 1,651.2 722.8 5,791.5 Trawl % Non-trawl Mt 95 95 39 72 75 36 95 95 95 45 45 90 95 95 100 95 95 % 10,122.3 429.5 767.1 940.3 1,743.8 3.2 742.1 45,984.2 9,422.9 1,918.4 386.0 1,666.5 2,298.6 1,039.1 348,968 3,996.3 2,398.2 Mt 5 5 61 28 25 64 5 5 5 55 55 10 5 5 0 5 5 532.8 22.6 1,197.8 360.6 581.3 5.8 39.1 2,420.2 495.9 2,344.7 471.7 185.2 121.0 54.7 0 210.3 126.2 58 5 NA 5 50 9 92 12 39.8 87.8 19 37 10 1,176.1 80.2 831.8 85.7 216.6 985.6 39.5 592.9 784.5 1,357.3 313.7 267.4 579.2 See Table 2c 42 95 NA 95 50 91 8 88 60.2 12.2 81 63 90 851.7 1,523.5 50.0 1,628.7 216.6 9,965.0 3.4 4,348.0 1,186.6 188.6 1,337.5 455.4 5,212.4 a Allocations decided through the biennial specification process. with regulations at § 660.55(i)(2), the commercial harvest guideline for Pacific whiting is allocated as follows: 34 Percent (118,649 mt) for the C/P Coop Program; 24 percent (83,752 mt) for the MS Coop Program; and 42 percent (146,567 mt) for the Shorebased IFQ Program. No more than 5 percent of the Shorebased IFQ Program allocation (7,328 mt) may be taken and retained south of 42° N lat. before the start of the primary Pacific whiting season north of 42° N lat. b Consistent 5. In § 660.140, revise paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(D) to read as follows: ■ § 660.140 * * Shorebased IFQ Program. * VerDate Sep<11>2014 * * 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 (d) * * * (1) * * * (ii) * * * (D) Pacific whiting and non-whiting QP shorebased trawl allocations. For the PO 00000 Frm 00100 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 trawl fishery, NMFS will issue QP based on the following shorebased trawl allocations: E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 118 / Thursday, June 18, 2020 / Rules and Regulations 36815 TABLE 1 TO PARAGRAPH (d)(1)(ii)(D) IFQ species Area Arrowtooth flounder ...................................................... Bocaccio ....................................................................... Canary rockfish ............................................................. Chilipepper .................................................................... COWCOD ..................................................................... Darkblotched rockfish ................................................... Dover sole .................................................................... English sole .................................................................. Lingcod ......................................................................... Lingcod ......................................................................... Longspine thornyhead .................................................. Minor Shelf Rockfish complex ...................................... Minor Shelf Rockfish complex ...................................... Minor Slope Rockfish complex ..................................... Minor Slope Rockfish complex ..................................... Other Flatfish complex ................................................. Pacific cod .................................................................... Pacific ocean perch ...................................................... Pacific whiting ............................................................... Petrale sole ................................................................... Sablefish ....................................................................... Sablefish ....................................................................... Shortspine thornyhead ................................................. Shortspine thornyhead ................................................. Splitnose rockfish ......................................................... Starry flounder .............................................................. Widow rockfish ............................................................. YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH ............................................ Yellowtail rockfish ......................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... South of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... South of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... South of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... North of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... South of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... North of 34°27′ N lat .................................................... North of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... South of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... North of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... South of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... North of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... North of 36° N lat ......................................................... South of 36° N lat ......................................................... North of 34°27′ N lat .................................................... South of 34°27′ N lat .................................................... South of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... Coastwide ..................................................................... North of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–12959 Filed 6–17–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:26 Jun 17, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00101 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\18JNR1.SGM 18JNR1 2019 Shorebased trawl allocation (mt) 2020 Shorebased trawl allocation (mt) 12,735.1 800.7 953.6 1,838.3 2.2 658.4 45,979.2 9,375.1 2,051.9 462.5 2,420.0 1,155.2 188.6 1,248.8 456.0 5,603.7 1,034.1 3,697.3 152,326.5 2,453.0 2,581.3 834.0 1,506.8 50.0 1,646.7 211.6 9,928.8 3.4 4,305.8 10,052.3 767.1 894.3 1,743.8 3.2 703.4 45,979.2 9,417.9 1,903.4 386.0 2,293.6 1,151.6 188.6 1,237.5 455.4 5,192.4 1,034.1 3,602.2 146,567 2,393.2 2,636.8 851.7 1,493.5 50.0 1,628.7 211.6 9,387.1 3.4 4,048.0

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 118 (Thursday, June 18, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 36803-36815]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-12959]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 200610-0156]
RIN 0648-BJ53


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2020 Harvest Specifications for 
Pacific Whiting, Cowcod and Shortbelly Rockfish and 2020 Pacific 
Whiting Tribal Allocation

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this final rule to establish 2020 harvest 
specifications and management measures for Pacific whiting, shortbelly 
rockfish, and cowcod caught in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone off the 
coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California consistent with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Pacific 
Whiting Act of 2006, and other applicable laws. For Pacific whiting, 
this rule establishes the 2020 adjusted U.S. Total Allowable Catch 
level, tribal and non-tribal allocations, and research and bycatch set-
asides. This final rule also adjusts the 2020 harvest specifications 
for shortbelly rockfish and cowcod. The catch limits in this rule are 
intended to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Pacific whiting, 
shortbelly rockfish, and cowcod stocks.

DATES: Effective June 18, 2020.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is accessible via the internet at the Office 
of the Federal Register website at https://www.federalregister.gov. 
Background information and documents including an integrated analysis 
for this action (Analysis), which addresses the statutory requirements 
of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act), the National Environmental Policy Act, 
Presidential Executive Order 12866, and the Regulatory Flexibility Act 
are available at the NMFS website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/2020-harvest-specifications-pacific-whiting-cowcod-and-shortbelly-rockfish-and-2020-pacific and at the Pacific Fishery 
Management Council's website at http://www.pcouncil.org/.
    The final environmental impact statement regarding Harvest

[[Page 36804]]

Specifications and Management Measures for 2015-2016 and Biennial 
Periods Thereafter, and the Final Environmental Assessment for Pacific 
Coast Groundfish Fishery 2019-20 Harvest Specifications, Yelloweye 
Rebuilding Plan Revisions, and Management Measures, are available on 
the NMFS West Coast Region website at: 
www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/nepa/groundfish/groundfish_nepa_documents.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stacey Miller, phone: 503-231-6290, 
and email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    This final rule includes actions for the Pacific whiting tribal and 
non-tribal fisheries, shortbelly rockfish, and cowcod. These actions 
are combined into one final rule because they all relate to 
establishing catch limits and management measures for Pacific Coast 
groundfish stocks in 2020. This rule announces the 2020 Pacific whiting 
coastwide Total Allowable Catch (TAC), establishes the Pacific whiting 
U.S. TAC based on the coastwide TAC, tribal allocation, allocations for 
three commercial whiting sectors, and set-asides for research and 
incidental mortality of Pacific whiting as recommended by the Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council); increases the 2020 annual catch 
limit (ACL) for shortbelly rockfish; and eliminates the 2020 annual 
catch target (ACT) and reduces the research set-aside for cowcod. The 
allocations for Pacific whiting are effective until December 31, 2020. 
The adjusted catch limits for cowcod and shortbelly supersede those put 
in place for 2020 through the 2019-2020 Pacific Coast Groundfish 
Biennial Harvest Specifications and Management Measures (83 FR 63970; 
December 12, 2018), and are being analyzed as part of the 2021-2022 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Biennial Harvest Specifications and Management 
Measures, which are anticipated to be effective on January 1, 2021. 
Additional background information on each of the measures included in 
this final rule are included in the proposed rule, published on April 
17, 2020 (85 FR 21372), and is not repeated here.

Pacific Whiting

2020 Pacific Whiting Harvest Specifications, Tribal Allocation and Non-
Tribal Allocation

    The transboundary stock of Pacific whiting is managed through the 
Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and 
the Government of Canada on Pacific Hake/Whiting of 2003, Nov. 21, 
2003, T.I.A.S. 08-625 (Agreement). NMFS issued a proposed rule on April 
17, 2020 (85 FR 21372) that describes the Agreement, including the 
establishment of F-40 percent default harvest rate, explicit allocation 
of Pacific whiting coastwide TAC to the U.S. (73.88 percent) and Canada 
(26.12 percent), the bilateral bodies to implement the terms of the 
Agreement, and the process used to determine the coastwide TAC.
    The 2020 Joint Management Committee (JMC) and Advisory Panel (AP) 
met March 11-13, 2020, via the internet, but did not reach a bilateral 
agreement on the coastwide TAC. The Agreement does not specify a 
procedure for when the JMC does not agree on a coastwide TAC. However, 
the 2006 Pacific Whiting Act (16 U.S.C. 7006(c)) identifies procedures 
for when the JMC does not recommend a final TAC. The Pacific Whiting 
Act states that NMFS (as delegated by the Secretary of Commerce) should 
establish the Pacific whiting TAC, taking into account recommendations 
from the Pacific whiting treaty advisory bodies, and Council. The 
Pacific Whiting Act requires NMFS to base the TAC decision on the best 
scientific information available, and use the default harvest rate 
unless scientific information indicates a different rate is necessary 
to sustain the Pacific whiting resource. The Pacific Whiting Act also 
requires NMFS to establish the U.S. share of the TAC based on the U.S./
Canada percentage split and adjustments specified in the Agreement. 
Finally, the Pacific Whiting Act requires NMFS to make the necessary 
adjustments to the TAC specified in the Agreement (Paragraph 5 of 
Article II). The Agreement (Paragraph 5 of Article II) requires 
adjustments to the coastwide TAC to account for overages if either U.S. 
or Canadian catch in the previous year exceeded its individual TAC, or 
carryovers, if U.S. or Canadian catch was less than its individual TAC 
in the previous year. Both the U.S. and Canada harvested less than 
their individual TACs in 2019, and therefore carryover is applied to 
the 2020 individual TACs.
    Taking into account the percentage shares for each country (26.12 
percent for Canada and 73.88 percent for the U.S.) and the adjustments 
for uncaught fish, as required by the Pacific Whiting Act, this final 
rule announces a final adjusted coastwide TAC of 575,000 metric tons 
(mt) and a final adjusted TAC for the U.S. of 424,810 mt (367,202 mt + 
57,608 mt carryover adjustment). Following the Act's criteria, NMFS 
analyzed a range of alternatives in the proposed rule (85 FR 21372; 
April 17, 2020) and determined a final adjusted coastwide TAC of 
575,000 mt maintains the sustainability of the Pacific whiting stock 
and balances the economic needs of coastal communities. This TAC is 
well below the default level of F-40 percent and is supported by the 
recommendations from the JMC and its advisory bodies, and is consistent 
with the best available scientific information, provisions of the 
Agreement, and the Whiting Act.

Tribal Allocations

    This final rule establishes the tribal allocation of Pacific 
whiting for 2020 as described in the proposed rule (85 FR 21372; April 
17, 2020). Since 1996, NMFS has been allocating a portion of the U.S. 
TAC of Pacific whiting to the tribal fishery. Regulations for the 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) specify that the 
tribal allocation is subtracted from the total U.S. Pacific whiting 
TAC. The tribal Pacific whiting fishery is managed separately from the 
non-tribal Pacific whiting fishery and is not governed by limited entry 
or open access regulations or allocations. NMFS is establishing the 
2020 tribal allocation as 74,342 mt (17.5 percent of the U.S. TAC) in 
this final rule. In 2009, NMFS, the states of Washington and Oregon, 
and the tribes with treaty rights to harvest Pacific whiting started a 
process to determine the long-term tribal allocation for Pacific 
whiting; however, no long-term allocation has been determined. While 
new scientific information or discussions with the relevant parties may 
impact that decision, the best available scientific information to date 
suggests that 74,342 mt is within the likely range of potential treaty 
right amounts. As with prior tribal Pacific whiting allocations, this 
final rule is not intended to establish precedent for future Pacific 
whiting seasons, or for the determination of the total amount of 
Pacific whiting to which the Tribes are entitled under their treaty 
right. Rather, this rule adopts an interim allocation. The long-term 
tribal treaty amount will be based on further development of scientific 
information and additional coordination and discussion with and among 
the coastal tribes and the states of Washington and Oregon.

Harvest Guidelines and Allocations

    This final rule also establishes the fishery harvest guideline 
(HG), also called the non-tribal allocation, as described in the 
proposed rule published on April 17, 2020 (85 FR 21372). The 2020 
fishery HG for Pacific

[[Page 36805]]

whiting is 348,968 mt. This amount was determined by deducting the 
74,342 mt tribal allocation and the 1,500 mt allocation for scientific 
research catch and fishing mortality in non-groundfish fisheries from 
the total U.S. TAC of 424,810 mt. The Council recommends the research 
and bycatch set-aside on an annual basis, based on estimates of 
scientific research catch and estimated bycatch mortality in non-
groundfish fisheries. The regulations further allocate the fishery HG 
among the three non-tribal sectors of the Pacific whiting fishery: The 
catcher/processor (C/P) Coop Program, the Mothership (MS) Coop Program, 
and the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program. The C/P Coop 
Program is allocated 34 percent (118,649 mt for 2020), the MS Coop 
Program is allocated 24 percent (83,752 mt for 2020), and the 
Shorebased IFQ Program is allocated 42 percent (146,567 mt for 2020). 
The fishery south of 42[deg] N lat. may not take more than 7,328 mt (5 
percent of the Shorebased IFQ Program allocation) prior to May 15, the 
start of the primary Pacific whiting season north of 42[deg] N lat.
    The environmental assessment for the 2019-2020 harvest 
specifications rule (see ADDRESSES) analyzed a range of TAC 
alternatives for 2020, and the final 2020 TAC falls within this 
analyzed range. In addition, via the 2019-2020 harvest specifications 
rulemaking process, the public had an opportunity to comment on the 
2019-2020 TACs for Pacific whiting, along with all other species in the 
groundfish FMP with catch limits set through that action. NMFS follows 
this process because, unlike for all other groundfish species, the TAC 
for Pacific whiting is typically decided in a highly abbreviated annual 
process from February through April of every year, and the normal 
rulemaking process would not allow for the fishery to open with the new 
TAC on the annual season opening date of May 15.

Table 1--2020 U.S. Pacific Whiting Total Allowable Catch and Allocations
                             in Metric Tons
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           2020 Pacific
                                                              whiting
                                                              harvest
                                                          specifications
                                                               (mt)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
U.S. TAC................................................         424,810
Research and Incidental Mortality Set-Aside.............           1,500
Tribal Allocation.......................................          74,342
Catcher/Processor (C/P) Coop Program Allocation.........         118,649
Mothership (MS) Coop Program Allocation.................          83,752
Shorebased IFQ Program Allocation.......................         146,567
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Shortbelly Rockfish (Sebastes jordani)

    This final rule implements the Council recommendation from its 
November 2019 meeting, to increase the 2020 ACL for shortbelly rockfish 
to 3,000 mt. The remaining shortbelly rockfish catch limits for 2020, 
including the OFL and ABC, are unchanged from those implemented in the 
2019-2020 Pacific Coast Groundfish Biennial Harvest Specifications (83 
FR 63970; December 12, 2018). The changes are summarized in Table 2 
below.

    Table 2--2020 Harvest Specifications and Management Measures for
                   Shortbelly Rockfish in Metric Tons
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Limits in mt
------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL.....................................................           6,950
ABC.....................................................           5,789
ACL.....................................................           3,000
Fishery Harvest Guideline...............................           2,983
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Shortbelly rockfish (Sebastes jordani) is one of the most abundant 
rockfish species and an important forage species in the California 
Current Ecosystem. Historically, shortbelly rockfish was most abundant 
off central California from Monterey Bay to Point Reyes, common in 
southern California, and only rarely encountered north of Cape 
Mendocino, California. In recent years, shortbelly rockfish 
distribution has extended north of Cape Mendocino, California and into 
Oregon and Washington waters, the principal fishing areas the midwater 
trawl fishery operates in to harvest Pacific whiting. While shortbelly 
rockfish bycatch was historically low in the Pacific whiting fishery, 
the recent expansion in distribution and a likely increase in 
abundance, is resulting in increased bycatch of shortbelly rockfish in 
the Pacific whiting midwater trawl fishery.
    Increasing the shortbelly rockfish ACL to 3,000 mt for the final 
half of the 2020 fishing year will accommodate incidental bycatch of 
the shortbelly rockfish stock given recent high bycatch in groundfish 
trawl fisheries, while continuing to minimize bycatch, discourage 
development of a targeted fishery for shortbelly rockfish, and 
continuing to protect the availability of shortbelly rockfish as 
important forage in the California Current Ecosystem.
    As described in the proposed rule (85 FR 21372; April 17, 2020) the 
increase of the 2020 ACL is not anticipated to induce targeting of 
shortbelly and continues to protect the availability of shortbelly 
rockfish as important forage in the California Current Ecosystem. 
Scientific information currently available provides evidence of above 
average forage conditions in the California Current Ecosystem with 
higher abundances of forage species such as anchovy and a high overall 
shortbelly rockfish population in 2018-2019. Further, the higher ACL is 
well below the shortbelly rockfish OFL of 6,950 mt, and ABC of 5,789 
mt.
    The final rule is an accountability measure that addresses the 
operational issue of a low ACL that resulted in ACL overages in 2018 
and 2019. National Standard 1 Guidelines state: ``On an annual basis, 
the Council must determine as soon as possible after the fishing year 
if an ACL was exceeded. If an ACL was exceeded, AMs must be implemented 
as soon as possible to correct the operational issue that caused the 
ACL overage, as well as any biological consequences to the stock or 
stock complex resulting from the overage when it is known.''
    The final rule will improve the performance and effectiveness of 
the ACL by increasing the ACL to reflect new information regarding 
shortbelly rockfish abundance and bycatch rates in the groundfish 
fishery. This will reduce the risk of an ACL overage in 2020, which 
would potentially close midwater trawl fisheries and cause adverse 
economic impacts to West Coast fishing communities while continuing to 
protect the availability of shortbelly rockfish as important forage in 
the California Current Ecosystem.
    The Council is considering harvest specifications and management 
measures for shortbelly rockfish as part of the 2021-2022 groundfish 
biennial harvest specifications cycle. The Council adopted a shortbelly 
rockfish ACL of 2,000 mt as its final preferred alternative for the 
2021-2022 groundfish biennial harvest specifications cycle during its 
April 2020 meeting. The Council is also considering accountability 
measures such as ACTs to address any potential ACL overage as part of 
the 2021-2022 groundfish biennial harvest specifications and management 
measures and is anticipated to adopt the final preferred shortbelly 
rockfish

[[Page 36806]]

management measures during its June 2020 meeting.

Cowcod (Sebastes levis) South of 40[deg]10' N Latitude

    This final rule removes the cowcod ACT of 6 mt and reduces the 
research catch set-aside to 1 mt for cowcod south of 40[deg]10' N 
latitude in 2020. The ACL will remain at 10 mt. Cowcod allocations 
increase from 2.2 mt to 3.2 mt to the trawl sectors, and from 3.8 mt to 
5.8 mt to the non-trawl sectors. The 2020 cowcod annual vessel limit 
increases from 858 pounds (0.4 mt) to 1,264 pounds (0.6 mt) for 
affected participants in the limited entry trawl fishery south of 
40[deg]10' N latitude. The measures are summarized in Table 3 below.

    Table 3--Summary of the Features for Cowcod South of 40[deg]10' N
          Latitude in Metric Tons, Except Where Noted as Pounds
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        2020 Harvest specifications \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL..................................  76.
ABC..................................  68.
ACL..................................  10.
Research Set-aside...................  1.
Fishery HG...........................  9.
ACT..................................  Removed.
Non-Trawl Allocation (64 percent of    5.8.
 the Fishery HG).
Trawl Allocation (36 percent of the    3.2.
 Fishery HG).
Annual Vessel Limit (17.7 percent of   0.6 (1,264 pounds).
 trawl allocation).
Increase in vessel limit.............  0.2 (406 pounds).
Increase in vessel limit (percent)...  47.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Table presents allocation and annual vessel limit values rounded to
  the nearest tenth of a metric ton.

    The Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program (75 FR 
60868; October 1, 2010 and 75 FR 78343; December 15, 2010) issued IFQ 
to limited entry trawl participants. In addition to IFQ, the program 
established annual vessel limits for IFQ species to prevent any one 
entity from having excessive control of a stock during a fishing year. 
The low overall catch limits of cowcod have prevented the Shorebased 
IFQ bottom trawlers from accessing healthy co-occurring groundfish 
stocks and in some years have resulted in vessels ending their fishing 
season early.
    Although the cowcod stock is now rebuilt, the timing of the 
biennial groundfish specification cycle means that the fleet would not 
benefit from less restrictive cowcod catch limits until 2021. This 
measure will reduce the risk that vessels fishing south of 40[deg]10' N 
lat. in the groundfish trawl IFQ program would reach their annual 
vessel limit for cowcod in 2020 and have to cease fishing in the trawl 
IFQ program for the remainder of the year, which would result in severe 
adverse economic impacts for those vessels and the fishing communities 
reliant on the trawl fishery south of 40[deg]10' N lat.
    In addition, the action may also benefit the non-trawl sectors 
including sport, limited entry fixed gear, and open access because the 
non-trawl allocation will increase by 2 mt (4,409 lbs) compared to the 
limit initially implemented for 2020. This could create additional 
flexibility for these fleets.

Comments and Responses

    On April 17, 2020, NMFS published a proposed rule in the Federal 
Register for the 2020 harvest specifications and management measures 
for Pacific whiting, shortbelly rockfish and cowcod (85 FR 21372). The 
comment period on the proposed rule closed on May 4, 2020. NMFS 
received seven unique comment letters during the comment period on the 
proposed rule. There were three letters from private citizens, two 
letters from the Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative (PWCC) and 
West Coast Seafood Processors Association (WCSPA)--organizations 
representing participants in the non-tribal whiting fishery, one letter 
from the Quinault Indian Nation, and one letter from the California 
Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
    NMFS received one comment from a private citizen in support of the 
entire action, and has addressed all summarized comments related to 
specific aspects of the proposed rule below.
    Comment 1: The PWCC and WCSPA supported the process NMFS used to 
set the coastwide Pacific whiting TAC, as well as the resulting 
allocations.
    Response: NMFS agrees. This was the first time JMC did not reach a 
bilateral agreement on the coastwide TAC for Pacific whiting. The 
Agreement between the Governments of the United States and Canada on 
Pacific Whiting/Hake does not specify a procedure for when the JMC does 
not agree on a coastwide TAC. Therefore, NMFS followed the procedures 
identified in the 2006 Pacific Whiting Act to set a coastwide TAC. The 
coastwide TAC of 575,000 mt is well below the default level of F-40 
percent and is consistent with the best available scientific 
information, provisions of the Agreement, and the Whiting Act, and 
provides adequate opportunity for both Canadian and U.S. fleets, while 
sustainably managing the Pacific whiting resource.
    Comment 2: The PWCC and WCSPA commented that it is critical NMFS 
implement a final rule to set the Pacific whiting allocations rule 
prior to May 15, 2020, because delays will cause economic harm and 
significant operational disruption.
    Response: NMFS recognizes that delays in setting a Pacific whiting 
allocation in time for the start of the season on May 15, 2020 could 
impact the Pacific whiting fleet. NMFS worked to implement this final 
rule as quickly as possible. However, the overall rulemaking process 
was delayed because the JMC did not reach agreement on the coastwide 
TAC, and NMFS was unable to publish a final rule before the start of 
the 2020 Pacific whiting fishery on May 15, 2020. To ensure the Pacific 
whiting fishery would be able to operate at the start of the season, 
NMFS used existing regulatory provisions to issue interim Pacific 
whiting allocations for the Shorebased IFQ Program and the at-sea MS 
Coop and C/P Coop sectors. NMFS notified these sectors on May 1, 2020, 
that the interim allocations would be available to fish at the start of 
the Pacific whiting fishery on May 15, 2020. The interim allocations 
are based on the lowest

[[Page 36807]]

value of the coastwide TAC (555,000 mt) analyzed in the proposed rule 
(84 FR 20578; April 17, 2020). With this final rule, NMFS is allocating 
additional Pacific whiting to each sector to match the allocations set 
in this action.
    Comment 3: The Quinault Indian Nation expressed concern that the 
language used in the proposed rule mischaracterized the 2020 Pacific 
whiting tribal allocation to the Treaty Tribes as an allocation 
exclusively for the Makah Indian Tribe, and requested NMFS change 
language in the rulemaking to clarify that the allocation is to all 
four of the Treaty Tribes.
    Response: NMFS agrees the tribal allocation is an interim, annual 
allocation to the four Washington coastal Indian tribes, including the 
Makah Indian Tribe, Quileute Indian Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, and 
the Hoh Indian Tribe. As with prior tribal Pacific whiting allocations, 
this final rule is not intended to establish precedent for future 
Pacific whiting seasons, or for the determination of the total amount 
of whiting to which the Tribes are entitled under their treaty right. 
Rather, this rule implements an interim allocation. The long-term 
tribal treaty amount will be based on further development of scientific 
information and additional coordination and discussion with and among 
the coastal tribes and the states of Washington and Oregon.
    Comment 4: The PWCC commented that it is critical to consider the 
potential economic impacts, overall and to specific non-tribal sectors, 
of the proposed allocation, especially because the regulations make 
reapportionment of tribal whiting to non-tribal sectors dependent upon 
fishery-wide Chinook salmon bycatch performance.
    Response: The economic analysis supporting the annual Pacific 
whiting TAC action outlines the economic impacts of the proposed tribal 
allocation. The purpose of the tribal allocation is to facilitate the 
tribes exercising their treaty right to harvest fish in their usual and 
accustomed fishing areas in U.S. waters. NMFS must take the necessary 
steps to ensure that this opportunity is available to those tribes. In 
1994, the United States formally recognized that the four Washington 
coastal treaty Indian tribes (Makah, Quileute, Hoh, and Quinault) have 
treaty rights to fish for groundfish, including Pacific whiting, in the 
Pacific Ocean, and concluded that, in general terms, the quantification 
of those rights is 50 percent of the harvestable surplus of groundfish 
that pass through the tribes usual and accustomed fishing areas. These 
treaty rights are implemented by the Secretary following the procedures 
outlined in 50 CFR 660.60.
    Regulations governing reapportionment give the Secretary 
discretion, but do not impose an obligation, to reapportion Pacific 
whiting from the tribal sector of the Pacific whiting fishery to non-
tribal sectors. The reapportioning process allows the non-tribal fleet 
to fish unharvested tribal allocations of Pacific whiting. The economic 
analysis for this rule does not consider the benefits of reapportioning 
the tribal allocation, which is consistent with the economic analysis 
discussed in the 2019 final rule for Pacific whiting (84 FR 20578; May 
10, 2019).
    In the economic analysis for this rule, the benefits from the 
tribal allocation are assumed to accrue to the tribal sector, and the 
benefits from the non-tribal allocation are assumed to accrue to the 
non-tribal sectors. Reapportionment flexibility is an additional 
potential benefit to the non-tribal sector, only in years when the 
tribal sector does not prosecute the entirety of its allocation. In the 
economic analysis, no portion of the benefits from the tribal 
allocation are assumed to accrue to the non-tribal sector, which would 
double-count the value of the benefit of this allocation to the tribal 
sector.
    The requirement to consider salmon bycatch as part of 
reapportionment is a term and condition in the 2017 Endangered Species 
Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) Biological Opinion on the effects of the 
Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP on listed salmonids. Term and Condition 2c 
of the Biological Opinion requires that NMFS consider the level of 
Chinook bycatch when determining whether to reapportion whiting and the 
Pacific Coast Groundfish regulations were amended to require this 
consideration (84 FR 20578; May 10, 2019). This consideration does not 
remove NMFS's obligation to consider economic impacts to the entities 
affected by this action. However, because of the unique nature of 
reapportionment, NMFS's treaty trust obligations to the Pacific Coast 
treaty Indian tribes and ESA considerations are the ultimate drivers of 
that decision, rather than the economic considerations.
    Comment 5: PWCC commented that economic harm can occur in the non-
tribal whiting sectors if NMFS does not use the re-apportionment 
process to effectively balance the needs of the tribal and non-tribal 
fisheries. PWCC further noted it is important that re-apportionment of 
tribal whiting to the non-tribal sectors include consideration of 
sector-specific Chinook bycatch and that NMFS provide re-apportionment 
of tribal whiting to specific non-tribal sectors based on their ability 
to harvest additional whiting.
    Response: These management suggestions are outside of the scope of 
the measure discussed in the proposed rule but could be achieved 
through the Council process. In most years, NMFS has allocated 
reapportioned tribal Pacific whiting allocation to the non-tribal 
sectors based on the allocations in the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP 
(i.e., 34 percent for the C/P Coop; 24 percent for the MS Coop; and 42 
percent for the Shorebased IFQ Program). NMFS has also distributed 
reapportioned tribal whiting to specific non-tribal sectors based on 
concerns about Chinook salmon bycatch in 2014 (80 FR 7390; February 10, 
2015), based on recommendation by the Council. In that reapportionment 
action, NMFS distributed reapportioned fish to the MS and C/P sectors, 
but not to the Shorebased IFQ sector. That action was based on 
voluntary bycatch reduction measures that were taken by the MS and C/P 
sectors in conjunction with projected higher bycatch rates in the 
Shorebased IFQ sector, and the fact that the Shorebased IFQ sector had 
not yet attained its existing allocation. In addition, the regulations 
now explicitly require NMFS to consider salmon bycatch as part of the 
reapportionment process, based on a requirement from the 2017 ESA 
Section 7(a)(2) Biological Opinion on the effects of the Pacific Coast 
Groundfish FMP on listed salmonids (84 FR 20578; May 10, 2019). 
However, NMFS has only adjusted reapportionment between non-tribal 
sectors to address salmon bycatch considerations, and has not made 
adjustments based on other considerations, such as the various non-
tribal sectors' ability to harvest reapportioned Pacific whiting.
    NMFS notes there are many factors than can affect the non-tribal 
sectors' ability to harvest reapportioned Pacific whiting. The Council 
would need to make recommendations on the specific criteria NMFS should 
use to adjust reapportionment based on these factors. The Council is 
considering developing management alternatives to increase Pacific 
whiting utilization in the MS Sector. This may provide an opportunity 
for other considerations about allocations to non-tribal sectors during 
the tribal whiting reapportionment process.
    Comment 6: The PWCC commented that it is critical that re-
apportionment

[[Page 36808]]

of tribal whiting to the non-tribal sectors occur no later than 
September 15th.
    Response: Current regulations provide NMFS with flexibility in the 
timing of reapportionment and allow for reapportionment to occur prior 
to September 15, but do not require reapportionment to happen on or 
before a specific date. Revisions to the timing of the reapportionment 
to require it before September 15 are beyond the scope of the action 
discussed in the proposed rule. NMFS is responsible for consulting with 
the tribes to ensure that reapportionments, should they occur, will not 
limit tribal harvest opportunities. As explained in the Regulatory 
Impact Review (RIR) and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), 
the timing of reapportionment in regulations was intended to allow for 
the tribal fishery to proceed to a point where it could likely be 
determined whether the full allocation would be used, while 
reallocating in time to allow the non-treaty sectors to catch the 
reallocated fish prior to the onset of winter weather conditions. In 
some years, the participating tribes may determine prior to September 
15 that they will not use a portion of the tribal allocation.
    As noted in the 2019 final rule for Pacific whiting (84 FR 20578; 
May 10, 2019), based on a review of reapportionment actions in 2012-
2018, it does not appear that the timing of the reapportionment 
impacted operational decisions during that time period. For reference, 
in 2012 the non-tribal sector caught 24,142 mt more than its initial 
allocation, of 28,000 mt reapportioned on October 4. In 2013, after a 
30,000 mt reallocation on September 18 (16 days earlier than in 2012), 
the non-tribal fishery caught 24,146 mt more than its initial 
allocation. The 16-day earlier reapportionment yielded 4 mt more catch 
(valued at $1,210 in real dollars). In 2014, a 25,000 mt initial 
reapportionment on September 12 resulted in only 4,564 mt attained over 
the initial non-tribal allocation. From 2015-2018, the non-tribal 
fishery as a whole did not catch its initial allocation, which implies 
that the timing of reallocations did not likely impact operational 
decisions during that period. NMFS notes that in 2019, reapportionment 
action occurred on September 13, 2019.
    Comment 7: The PWCC and WCSPA support the increase to the 2020 
shortbelly rockfish ACL. They pointed to the strong justification in 
proposed rule and draft Environmental Assessment regarding the 
necessity of this action, the negligible environmental and ecosystem 
impacts of the increase to the shortbelly rockfish ACL, and the 
economic impacts of potential closure.
    Response: NMFS agrees and notes increasing the 2020 ACL for 
shortbelly rockfish to 3,000 mt accommodates incidental bycatch of the 
shortbelly rockfish stock given recent high bycatch in groundfish trawl 
fisheries, while continuing to minimize bycatch and discourage 
development of a targeted fishery for shortbelly rockfish. The increase 
is based on the best scientific information available as described in 
the Analytical Document and Environmental Assessment.
    Comment 8: CDFW commented in support of eliminating the 2020 ACT of 
6 mt for cowcod south of 40[deg]10' N latitude and reducing the 
research set-aside amount to 1 mt.
    Response: NMFS agrees and notes that low catch limits of cowcod 
have prevented the IFQ bottom trawlers from accessing healthy 
groundfish stocks and, in some years, have resulted in trawl vessels 
ending their fishing season early. The 2019 cowcod assessment indicates 
stock biomass has exceeded the rebuilding target. However, because of 
the timing of the biennial groundfish specification cycle, the fleet 
would not benefit from less restrictive catch limits until 2021. This 
measure reduces the risk that vessels in the trawl IFQ bottom trawl 
fishery reach their annual vessel limit for cowcod in 2020 and have to 
cease fishing in the IFQ bottom trawl fishery for the remainder of the 
year.
    Comment 9: CDFW commented that in addition to benefits of the trawl 
sector, eliminating the cowcod ACT may positively benefit non-trawl 
sectors because this change also increases the non-trawl cowcod 
allocation. The increase to the non-trawl allocation reduces the 
likelihood of the non-trawl fisheries exceeding this new limit.
    Response: NMFS agrees there are benefits to both the trawl and non-
trawl sectors of eliminating the ACT of 6 mt for cowcod south of 
40[deg]10' N latitude and reducing the research set-aside amount to 1 
mt. NMFS notes this information was included in the RIR/IRFA and was 
considered by the Council and NMFS in the decision-making process.
    Comment 10: A private citizen commented that if NMFS wants to 
loosen restrictions on fishing, NMFS needs science, not political 
pressure, to prove fish stocks are back to full capacity and need to 
keep monitoring the situation.
    Response: NMFS is committed to following Magnuson-Stevens Act 
National Standards, including National Standard 2 which states 
conservation and management measures shall be based on the best 
scientific information available. The actions in this rule are based on 
the most up-to-date stock assessments of Pacific whiting, cowcod south 
of 40[deg]10' N lat. and shortbelly rockfish, as well as recent 
fishery-independent survey data, California Current Ecosystem Status 
Reports, and monitoring of fishery operations off the West Coast.
    NMFS is also committed to following mandates including the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., as 
implemented by the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR 
parts 1500 through 1508), which requires that Federal agencies include 
in their decision-making processes appropriate and careful 
consideration of all environmental effects of proposed actions, analyze 
potential environmental effects of proposed actions and their 
alternatives, avoid or minimize adverse effects of proposed actions, 
and restore and enhance environmental quality to the extent 
practicable.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    No substantive changes from the proposed rule were made based on 
comments NMFS received. NMFS is making a technical correction to remove 
incorrect footnotes in Table 2B to Part 660, Subpart C consistent with 
the final rule for Amendment 21-4 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP, 
published December 17, 2019 (84 FR 68799), that changed the within-
trawl allocation structure for darkblotched rockfish, Pacific ocean 
perch, and widow rockfish. This correction also brings the table and 
footnotes into consistency with existing regulations concerning trawl 
and non-trawl allocations at Sec.  660.55(c).

Classification

    The Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, determined that the 
final rule is necessary for the conservation and management of the 
Pacific whiting and Pacific coast groundfish fisheries and that it is 
consistent with section 304(b)(1)(A) and 305(d), and other provisions 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the 
Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP, and other applicable laws.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the NMFS Assistant Administrator 
finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness 
for this final rule because such a delay would be contrary to the 
public interest. If this final rule were delayed by 30 days, Pacific 
coast groundfish fishermen would not be able to fish under the

[[Page 36809]]

revised, increased, catch limits for Pacific whiting, shortbelly 
rockfish and cowcod south of 40[deg]10' N lat. for that time period, 
and not be able to realize the full level of economic opportunity this 
rule provides. Waiving the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness 
will allow this final rule to more fully benefit the fishery through 
increased fishing opportunities as described in the Integrated Analysis 
and preamble of this rule.
    In addition, because this rule increases catch limits for Pacific 
whiting, shortbelly rockfish and cowcod, it relieves a restriction, and 
therefore also falls within the 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) exception to the 30-
day delay in the date of effectiveness requirement. The Pacific whiting 
fishery season began fishing on May 15, 2020 under interim allocations 
based on the lowest coastwide TAC analyzed in the proposed rule. This 
final rule implements a higher TAC for Pacific whiting and implementing 
the rule upon publication provides the whiting fleet more opportunity 
and greater flexibility to harvest the optimal yield. Additionally, the 
increased shortbelly rockfish ACL is critical to implement immediately 
because the Pacific whiting fishery is underway and is encountering 
high levels of shortbelly rockfish bycatch. The higher ACL for 
shortbelly rockfish implemented with this rule allows the Pacific 
whiting fishery access to a higher bycatch allocation for a longer 
duration of the fishing season and allows them to make business plans 
with the higher allocation. Finally, removal of the cowcod ACT and 
decrease of the research set-aside removes current constraints on the 
groundfish fishery in that area.
    Waiving the 30-day delay in effectiveness will not have a negative 
impact on any entities, as there are no new compliance requirements or 
other burdens placed on the fishing community with this rule. Making 
this rule effective immediately would also serve the best interests of 
the public because it will allow for the longest possible fishing 
season for Pacific whiting and cowcod south of 40[deg]10' N, and 
therefore the best possible economic outcome for those whose 
livelihoods depend on this fishery. Because the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness would potentially cause significant financial harm 
without providing any corresponding benefits, this final rule is 
effective upon publication in the Federal Register.
    The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this final 
rule is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. This 
final rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because 
this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    NMFS published a proposed rule on April 17, 2020 (85 FR 21372), for 
the 2020 Harvest Specifications for Pacific Whiting, shortbelly 
rockfish, and cowcod, and 2020 tribal allocation for Pacific whiting. 
An IRFA was prepared and summarized in the Classification section of 
the preamble to the proposed rule. The comment period on the proposed 
rule ended on May 4, 2020. NMFS received seven comment letters on the 
proposed rule. The Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) did not file any comments on the IRFA or the 
proposed rule. The description of this action, its purpose, and its 
legal basis are described in the preamble to the proposed rule and are 
not repeated here. A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was 
prepared and incorporates the IRFA and response to the public comments, 
which are summarized in the Comments and Responses section of this 
final rule. NMFS also prepared a RIR for this action. A copy of the 
RIR/FRFA is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the FRFA, 
per the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 604 follows.
    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the term ``small 
entities'' includes small businesses, small organizations, and small 
governmental jurisdictions. The SBA has established size criteria for 
entities involved in the fishing industry that qualify as small 
businesses. A business involved in fish harvesting is a small business 
if it is independently owned and operated and not dominant in its field 
of operation (including its affiliates) and if it has combined annual 
receipts, not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated 
operations worldwide (see 80 FR 81194; December 29, 2015). A wholesale 
business servicing the fishing industry is a small business if it 
employs 100 or fewer persons on a full time, part time, temporary, or 
other basis, at all its affiliated operations worldwide. A seafood 
processor is a small business if it is independently owned and 
operated, not dominant in its field of operation, and employs 750 or 
fewer persons on a full time, part time, temporary, or other basis, at 
all its affiliated operations worldwide. For purposes of rulemaking, 
NMFS is also applying the seafood processor standard to catcher 
processors because Pacific whiting Catcher-Processors (C/Ps) earn the 
majority of the revenue from processed seafood product.

A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public in Response to 
the IRFA, a Summary of the Agency's Assessment of Such Issues, and a 
Statement of Any Changes Made in the Final Rule as a Result of Such 
Comments

    NMFS received comments from the PWCC, an organization representing 
the non-tribal sector of the Pacific whiting fishery, reiterating 
comments submitted last year regarding the economic importance of the 
re-apportionment of unharvested tribal allocations to the non-tribal 
fishery, and concerns regarding the timing and considerations driving 
the re-apportionment process. Our response to the comments received on 
the proposed rule, including those that commented on the economic 
analyses summarized in the IRFA, can be found in the Comment and 
Response section of this rule. As outlined in that section, Comment 4 
discusses the economic analysis of the proposed allocation, especially 
given the requirement to consider Chinook salmon bycatch during the re-
apportionment process. Comment 5 discusses the importance of the re-
apportionment process to balance the needs of the tribal and non-tribal 
fisheries as well as sector-specific considerations when re-
apportioning tribal whiting to non-tribal fisheries. Comment 6 
discusses the timing of re-apportionment of tribal whiting to the non-
tribal sectors. Detailed responses are provided to each of these 
specific comments in the preamble of this rule and are not repeated 
here. There were no other comments directly related to the IRFA; the 
Chief Counsel for the Office of Advocacy of the SBA did not file any 
comments. No changes to the proposed rule measures were necessary as a 
result of these public comments.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities To Which the 
Rule Applies, and Estimate of Economic Impacts by Entity Size and 
Industry

    This rule affect how Pacific whiting is allocated to the following 
sectors/programs: Tribal, Shorebased IFQ Program Trawl Fishery, MS Coop 
Program Whiting At-sea Trawl Fishery, and C/P Coop Program Whiting At-
sea Trawl Fishery. The amount of Pacific whiting allocated to these 
sectors is based on the U.S. TAC.
    NMFS expects one tribal entity to fish for Pacific whiting in 2020. 
Tribes are not considered small entities for the purposes of RFA. 
Impacts to tribes are nevertheless considered in this analysis. As of 
January 2020, the Shorebased IFQ Program is composed of 167 Quota

[[Page 36810]]

Share (QS) permits/accounts (134 of which were allocated whiting quota 
pounds), and 41 first receivers, 2 of which are designated as whiting-
only receivers and 15 that may receive both whiting and non-whiting. 
These regulations also directly affect participants in the MS Co-op 
Program, a general term to describe the limited access program that 
applies to eligible harvesters and processors in the MS sector of the 
Pacific whiting at-sea trawl fishery. This program currently consists 
of 6 MS processor permits, and a catcher vessel fleet currently 
composed of a single co-op, with 34 Mothership/Catcher Vessel (MS/CV) 
endorsed permits (with three permits each having two catch history 
assignments). These regulations also directly affect the C/P Co-op 
Program, composed of 10 C/P endorsed permits owned by three companies 
that have formed a single co-op. These co-ops are considered large 
entities from several perspectives; they have participants that are 
large entities and have in total more than 750 employees worldwide 
including affiliates. Although there are three non-tribal sectors, many 
companies participate in two sectors and some participate in all three 
sectors. As part of the permit application processes for the non-tribal 
fisheries, based on a review of the SBA size criteria, permit 
applicants are asked if they considered themselves a ``small'' 
business, and they are asked to provide detailed ownership information. 
Data on employment worldwide, including affiliates, are not available 
for these companies, which generally operate in Alaska as well as the 
West Coast and may have operations in other countries as well. NMFS has 
limited entry permit holders self-report size status. For 2020, all 10 
C/P permits reported they are not small businesses, as did 8 MS/CV. 
There is substantial, but not complete overlap between permit ownership 
and vessel ownership so there may be a small number of additional small 
entity vessel owners who will be impacted by this rule. After 
accounting for cross participation, multiple QS permit/account holders, 
and affiliation through ownership, NMFS estimates that there are 106 
non-tribal entities directly affected by these regulations, 85 of which 
are considered ``small'' businesses.
    This rule allocates Pacific whiting between tribal and non-tribal 
harvesters (a mixture of small and large businesses). Tribal fisheries 
consist of a mixture of fishing activities that are similar to the 
activities that non-tribal fisheries undertake. Tribal harvests may be 
delivered to both shoreside plants and motherships for processing. 
These processing facilities also process fish harvested by non-tribal 
fisheries. The effect of the tribal allocation on non-tribal fisheries 
will depend on the level of tribal harvests relative to their 
allocation and the reapportionment process. If the tribes do not 
harvest their entire allocation, there are opportunities during the 
year to reapportion unharvested tribal amounts to the non-tribal 
fleets. For example, in 2019 NMFS reapportioned 40,000 mt of the 
original 77,251 mt tribal allocation. This reapportionment was based on 
conversations with the tribes and the best information available at the 
time, which indicated that this amount would not limit tribal harvest 
opportunities for the remainder of the year. The reapportioning process 
allows unharvested tribal allocations of Pacific whiting to be fished 
by the non-tribal fleets, benefitting both large and small entities. 
The revised Pacific whiting allocations for 2019 following the 
reapportionment were: Tribal 37,251 mt, C/P Co-op 136,912 mt; MS Co-op 
96,644 mt; and Shorebased IFQ Program 169,126 mt.
    The prices for Pacific whiting are largely determined by the world 
market because most of the Pacific whiting harvested in the U.S. is 
exported. The U.S. Pacific whiting TAC is highly variable, as have 
subsequent harvests and ex-vessel revenues. For the years 2015 to 2019, 
the total Pacific whiting fishery (tribal and non-tribal) averaged 
harvests of approximately 281,205 mt annually. The 2019 U.S. non-tribal 
fishery had a catch of approximately 312,500 mt, and the tribal fishery 
landed approximately 4,000 mt.
    Impacts to tribal catcher vessels who elect to participate in the 
tribal fishery are measured with an estimate of ex-vessel revenue. In 
lieu of more complete information on tribal deliveries, total ex-vessel 
revenue is estimated with the 2019 average shoreside ex-vessel price of 
Pacific whiting, which was $200 per mt. At that price, the 2020 tribal 
allocation of 74,342 mt would have an ex-vessel value of $14.9 million.
Shortbelly Rockfish
    The rule primarily affects limited entry trawl vessels, especially 
midwater trawl vessels targeting Pacific whiting and semi-pelagic 
rockfish (i.e., non-whiting) north of 40[deg]10' N latitude given the 
sectors and gear experiencing the highest bycatch of shortbelly 
rockfish in recent years. The entities fishing for Pacific whiting 
(described in detail above), and the 14-20 vessels fishing in the non-
whiting midwater trawl fishery in 2017-2018, would be affected. The 
shortbelly rockfish alternative will have neutral to positive impacts 
for limited entry trawl participants fishing in the Pacific whiting and 
non-whiting midwater fisheries.
Cowcod South of 40[deg]10' N Latitude
    The rule directly impacts two groups: Quota share owners of cowcod 
south of 40[deg]10' N latitude and catcher vessel owners who operate 
vessels south of 40[deg]10' N latitude and have the potential to 
encounter cowcod. There are 62 entities that own 2020 cowcod quota and 
7 vessels that caught cowcod south of 40[deg]10' N latitude in 2019 
that would be impacted by this rule. The cowcod alternative will have 
neutral to positive impacts for limited entry trawl participants who 
own quota for this species and/or fish south of 40[deg]10' N latitude. 
Quota owners that are able to sell increased quota amounts may benefit. 
Most IFQ vessels do not operate south of 40[deg]10' N latitude and 
would experience no impacts from the preferred alternative.

Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) Determination of No Significant Impact

    NMFS determined this rule does not adversely affect small entities. 
The reapportioning process allows unharvested tribal allocations of 
Pacific whiting, fished by small entities, to be fished by the non-
tribal fleets, benefitting both large and small entities. The 
shortbelly and cowcod measures will assist small entities by reducing 
the risk of early closures due to bycatch. The shortbelly rockfish and 
cowcod measures are temporary and will be in effect for less than 1 
year.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    There are no reporting, recordkeeping or other compliance 
requirements in the final rule.
    No Federal rules have been identified that duplicate, overlap, or 
conflict with this action.

Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the 
Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the 
Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes

Pacific Whiting
    This action determines the 2020 coastwide TAC of 575,000 mt, with a 
corresponding U.S. TAC of 424,810 mt. NMFS considered a range of 
alternatives for the Pacific whiting coastwide TAC, including a lower 
coastwide TAC of 555,000 mt and higher coastwide TACs of 597,500 mt and 
666,480 mt. The lower coastwide TAC (555,000 mt)

[[Page 36811]]

would have greater economic impacts for 2020 than the coastwide TAC of 
575,000 mt. The higher coastwide TACs considered in the range (597,500 
mt and 666,480 mt) would have less economic impact for 2020. However, 
2020 stock assessment projections indicate these higher catch levels 
(e.g. 597,500 mt and 666,480 mt) may result in near-term stock biomass 
declines below target levels. This is contrary to the Whiting Act and 
Agreement, which requires sustainable management of the Pacific whiting 
resource.
    NMFS considered two alternatives for the tribal allocation action: 
The ``No-Action'' and the ``Proposed Action.'' NMFS did not consider a 
broader range of alternatives to the proposed tribal allocation. The 
tribal allocation is based primarily on the requests of the tribes. 
These requests reflect the level of participation in the fishery that 
will allow them to exercise their treaty right to fish for Pacific 
whiting. Under the Action alternative, NMFS set the tribal allocation 
percentage at 17.5 percent, as requested by the tribes. This would 
yield a tribal allocation of 74,342 mt for 2020. Consideration of a 
percentage lower than the tribal request of 17.5 percent is not 
appropriate in this instance. As a matter of policy, NMFS has 
historically supported the harvest levels requested by the tribes. 
Based on the information available to NMFS, the tribal request is 
within their tribal treaty rights. A higher percentage would arguably 
also be within the scope of the treaty rights. However, a higher 
percentage would unnecessarily limit the non-tribal fishery.
    Under the No-Action alternative, NMFS would not make an allocation 
to the tribal sector. This alternative was considered, but the 
regulatory framework provides for a tribal allocation on an annual 
basis only. Therefore, the no-action alternative would result in no 
allocation of Pacific whiting to the tribal sector in 2020, which would 
be inconsistent with NMFS's responsibility to manage the fishery 
consistent with the tribes' treaty rights. Given that there is a tribal 
request for allocation in 2020, this alternative received no further 
consideration.
Shortbelly Rockfish
    This action establishes the 2020 ACL of 3,000 mt. The Council and 
NMFS considered two additional alternatives for shortbelly rockfish: No 
action and specifying a 2020 ACL of 4,184 mt. Under the no action 
alternative, NMFS would not change the 2020 ACL for shortbelly 
rockfish. This no action alternative has the highest risk of an early 
fishery closure and lost revenue for Pacific whiting and limited entry 
non-whiting midwater trawl fisheries and communities. The range of 
predicted impacts in terms of foregone income is $4.6 million to $175.2 
million depending on whether there is a late season closure in December 
or an earlier closure in June. The measure for shortbelly rockfish 
would reduce the risk of an early closure for midwater trawl fisheries 
due to the possibility of high bycatch of shortbelly rockfish in 2020, 
and avoid the adverse economic impacts to West Coast fishing 
communities that would result from such closures or constraints. The 
measure to establish the 2020 ACL at 3,000 mt, rather than the 
alternative of 4,184 mt, should be sufficient to avoid constraining the 
midwater trawl fishery while continuing to ensure more than adequate 
shortbelly rockfish as forage.
Cowcod South of 40[deg]10' N Latitude
    This action eliminates the 2020 ACT of 6 mt for cowcod south of 
40[deg]10' N latitude and reduces the research set-aside amount to 1 
mt. The measure increases the annual vessel limit for cowcod from 858 
lbs (0.4 mt) to 1,264 lbs (0.6 mt). This measure meets the stated 
purpose and need to reduce the risk that IFQ vessels south of 
40[deg]10' N latitude will reach their individual vessel limits of 
cowcod in 2020 and have to cease fishing in the IFQ fishery for the 
remainder of the year, which would result in adverse economic impacts 
on those vessels and fishing communities in the area.
    The Council and NMFS considered no action and alternatives to 
provide relief on limited entry trawl participants fishing south of 
40[deg]10' N latitude, including removing the ACT and varying 
adjustments to the research set-aside amounts. Under the no action 
alternative, NMFS would not change the ACT or research set-aside 
amounts. This no action alternative would result in potential loss of 
revenue if vessels reach their cowcod individual vessel limit and are 
required to cease fishing for the remainder of the year.
    The Council considered an alternative to remove the ACT of 6 mt and 
reduce the research set-aside to 0.5 mt. This alternative may have 
resulted in a lesser economic impact on vessels and fishing 
communities, but it did not provide an adequate amount of cowcod for 
research.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish 
one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, 
and shall designate such publications as ``small entity compliance 
guides.'' The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is 
required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of 
this and the related 2019-2020 Biennial Specifications and Management 
Measures for the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery (83 FR 63970; 
December 12, 2018) rulemaking process, a small entity compliance guide 
was sent to stakeholders, and copies of the final rule and guides 
(i.e., information bulletins) are available from NMFS at the following 
website: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/pacific-whiting#management.

Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

    Pursuant to Executive Order 13175, this final rule was developed 
after meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials 
from the area covered by the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP. Under the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act at 16 U.S.C. 1852(b)(5), one of the voting members 
of the Pacific Council must be a representative of an Indian tribe with 
federally recognized fishing rights from the area of the Council's 
jurisdiction. In addition, regulations implementing the Pacific Coast 
Groundfish FMP establish a procedure by which the tribes with treaty 
fishing rights in the area covered by the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP 
request new allocations or regulations specific to the tribes, in 
writing, before the first of the two meetings at which the Council 
considers groundfish management measures. The regulations at 50 CFR 
660.324(d) further state, ``the Secretary will develop tribal 
allocations and regulations under this paragraph in consultation with 
the affected tribe(s) and, insofar as possible, with tribal 
consensus.'' The tribal management measures in this final rule have 
been developed following these procedures.
    With this final rule, NMFS, acting on behalf of the Secretary, 
determined that the FMP is implemented in a manner consistent with 
treaty rights of four Treaty Tribes to fish in their ``usual and 
accustomed grounds and stations'' in common with non-tribal citizens. 
United States v. Washington, 384 F. Supp. 313 (W.D. Wash. 1974).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Indian Fisheries.


[[Page 36812]]


    Dated: June 11, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

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

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


0
2. In Sec.  660.50, revise paragraph (f)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.50  Pacific Coast treaty Indian fisheries.

* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (4) Pacific whiting. The tribal allocation for 2020 will be 74,342 
mt.
* * * * *

0
3. Revise table 2a to part 660, subpart C, to read as follows:

   Table 2a to Part 660, Subpart C--2020, and Beyond, Specification of OFL, ABC, ACL, ACT and Fishery Harvest
                                                   Guidelines
                                            [Weights in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Stocks/stock complexes                      Area                 OFL      ABC    ACL \a\  Fishery HG \b\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
COWCOD \c\...........................  S of 40[deg]10' N lat........        76       68       10               9
COWCOD...............................  (Conception).................        62       57       NA              NA
COWCOD...............................  (Monterey)...................        13       11       NA              NA
YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH \d\...............  Coastwide....................        84       77       49              43
Arrowtooth Flounder \e\..............  Coastwide....................    15,306   12,750   12,750          10,655
Big Skate \f\........................  Coastwide....................       541      494      494             452
Black Rockfish \g\...................  California (S of 42[deg] N          341      326      326             325
                                        lat.).
Black Rockfish \h\...................  Washington (N of 46[deg]16' N       311      297      297             279
                                        lat.).
Bocaccio \i\.........................  S of 40[deg]10' N lat........     2,104    2,011    2,011           1,965
Cabezon \j\..........................  California (S of 42[deg] N          153      146      146             146
                                        lat.).
California Scorpionfish \k\..........  S of 34[deg]27' N lat........       331      307      307             305
Canary Rockfish \l\..................  Coastwide....................     1,431    1,368    1,368           1,301
Chilipepper Rockfish \m\.............  S of 40[deg]10' N lat........     2,521    2,410    2,410           2,325
Darkblotched Rockfish \n\............  Coastwide....................       853      815      815             781
Dover Sole[deg]......................  Coastwide....................    92,048   87,998   50,000          48,404
English Sole \p\.....................  Coastwide....................    11,101   10,135   10,135           9,919
Lingcod \q\..........................  N of 40[deg]10' N lat........     4,768    4,558    4,541           4,263
Lingcod \r\..........................  S of 40[deg]10' N lat........       977      934      869             858
Longnose Skate \s\...................  Coastwide....................     2,474    2,365    2,000           1,852
Longspine Thornyhead \t\.............  N of 34[deg]27' N lat........     3,901    3,250    2,470           2,420
Longspine Thornyhead \u\.............  S of 34[deg]27' N lat........  ........  .......      780             779
Pacific Cod \v\......................  Coastwide....................     3,200    2,221    1,600           1,094
Pacific Whiting \w\..................  Coastwide....................   666,458    (\w\)    (\w\)         348,968
Pacific Ocean Perch \x\..............  N of 40[deg]10' N lat........     4,632    4,229    4,229           4,207
Petrale Sole \y\.....................  Coastwide....................     2,976    2,845    2,845           2,524
Sablefish \z\........................  N of 36[deg] N lat...........     8,648    7,896    5,723    See Table 2c
Sablefish \aa\.......................  S of 36[deg] N lat...........  ........  .......    2,032           2,028
Shortbelly Rockfish \bb\.............  Coastwide....................     6,950    5,789    3,000           2,983
Shortspine Thornyhead \cc\...........  N of 34[deg]27' N lat........     3,063    2,551    1,669           1,604
Shortspine Thornyhead \dd\...........  S of 34[deg]27' N lat........  ........  .......      883             882
Spiny Dogfish \ee\...................  Coastwide....................     2,472    2,059    2,059           1,726
Splitnose Rockfish \ff\..............  S of 40[deg]10' N lat........     1,810    1,731    1,731           1,714
Starry Flounder \gg\.................  Coastwide....................       652      452      452             433
Widow Rockfish \hh\..................  Coastwide....................    11,714   11,199   11,199          10,951
Yellowtail Rockfish \ii\.............  N of 40[deg]10' N lat........     6,261    5,986    5,986           4,941
Black Rockfish/Blue Rockfish/Deacon    Oregon (Between 46[deg]16' N        670      611      611             609
 Rockfish \jj\.                         lat. and 42[deg] N lat.).
Cabezon/Kelp Greenling \kk\..........  Oregon (Between 46[deg]16' N        216      204      204             204
                                        lat. and 42[deg] N lat.).
Cabezon/Kelp Greenling \ll\..........  Washington (N of 46[deg]16' N        12       10       10              10
                                        lat.).
Nearshore Rockfish \mm\..............  N of 40[deg]10' N lat........        92       82       82              79
Shelf Rockfish \nn\..................  N of 40[deg]10' N lat........     2,302    2,048    2,048           1,971
Slope Rockfish \oo\..................  N of 40[deg]10' N lat........     1,873    1,732    1,732           1,651
Nearshore Rockfish \pp\..............  S of 40[deg]10' N lat........     1,322    1,165    1,163           1,159
Shelf Rockfish \qq\..................  S of 40[deg]10' N lat........     1,919    1,626    1,625           1,546
Slope Rockfish \rr\..................  S of 40[deg]10' N lat........       855      743      743             723
Other Flatfish \ss\..................  Coastwide....................     8,202    6,041    6,041           5,792
Other Fish \tt\......................  Coastwide....................       286      239      239            230
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\a\ Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs) and harvest guidelines (HGs) are specified as total
  catch values.
\b\ Fishery HGs means the HG or quota after subtracting Pacific Coast treaty Indian tribes allocations and
  projected catch, projected research catch, deductions for fishing mortality in non-groundfish fisheries, and
  deductions for EFPs from the ACL or ACT.
\c\ Cowcod south of 40[deg]10' N lat. 1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate EFP fishing (less than 0.1
  mt) and research activity, resulting in a fishery HG of 9 mt. Any additional mortality in research activities
  will be deducted from the ACL.
\d\ Yelloweye rockfish. The 49 mt ACL is based on the current rebuilding plan with a target year to rebuild of
  2029 and an SPR harvest rate of 65 percent. 6.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery
  (2.3 mt), the incidental open access fishery (0.62 mt), EFP catch (0.24 mt) and research catch (2.92 mt),
  resulting in a fishery HG of 43 mt. The non-trawl HG is 39.5 mt. The non-nearshore HG is 2.1 mt and the
  nearshore HG is 6.2 mt. Recreational HGs are: 10.2 mt (Washington); 9.1 mt (Oregon); and 11.9 mt (California).
  In addition, there are the following ACTs: Non-nearshore (1.7 mt), nearshore (4.9 mt), Washington recreational
  (8.1 mt), Oregon recreational (7.2 mt), and California recreational (9.4 mt).
\e\ Arrowtooth flounder. 2,094.9 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (2,041 mt), the
  incidental open access fishery (40.8 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (13 mt), resulting in a
  fishery HG of 10,655 mt.

[[Page 36813]]

 
\f\ Big skate. 41.9 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (15 mt), the incidental open
  access fishery (21.3 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (5.5 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 452
  mt.
\g\ Black rockfish (California). 1.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate EFP fishing (1.0 mt) and the
  incidental open access fishery (0.3 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 325 mt.
\h\ Black rockfish (Washington). 18.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (18 mt) and
  research catch (0.1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 279 mt.
\i\ Bocaccio south of 40[deg]10' N lat. The stock is managed with stock-specific harvest specifications south of
  40[deg]10' N lat. and within the Minor Shelf Rockfish complex north of 40[deg]10' N lat. 46.1 mt is deducted
  from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (0.5 mt), EFP catch (40 mt) and research catch
  (5.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,965 mt. The California recreational fishery has an HG of 827.2 mt.
\j\ Cabezon (California). 0.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery,
  resulting in a fishery HG of 146 mt.
\k\ California scorpionfish south of 34[deg]27' N lat. 2.4 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the
  incidental open access fishery (2.2 mt) and research catch (0.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 305 mt.
\l\ Canary rockfish. 67.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (50 mt), the incidental
  open access fishery (1.3 mt), EFP catch (8 mt), and research catch (7.8 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of
  1,301 mt. Recreational HGs are: 44.3 mt (Washington); 66.5 mt (Oregon); and 119.7 mt (California).
\m\ Chilipepper rockfish south of 40[deg]10' N lat. Chilipepper are managed with stock-specific harvest
  specifications south of 40[deg]10' N lat. and within the Minor Shelf Rockfish complex north of 40[deg]10' N
  lat. 84.9 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (11.5 mt), EFP fishing
  (60 mt), and research catch (13.4 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 2,325 mt.
\n\ Darkblotched rockfish. 33.8 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (0.2 mt), the
  incidental open access fishery (24.5 mt), EFP catch (0.6 mt), and research catch (8.5 mt) resulting in a
  fishery HG of 781 mt.
\o\ Dover sole. 1,595.6 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (1,497 mt), the incidental
  open access fishery (49.3 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (49.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG
  of 48,404 mt.
\p\ English sole. 216.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (200 mt), the incidental
  open access fishery (8.1 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (8 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of
  9,919 mt.
\q\ Lingcod north of 40[deg]10' N lat. 278 mt is deducted from the ACL for the Tribal fishery (250 mt), the
  incidental open access fishery (9.8 mt), EFP catch (1.6 mt) and research catch (16.6 mt), resulting in a
  fishery HG of 4,263 mt.
\r\ Lingcod south of 40[deg]10' N lat. 11.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open
  access fishery (8.1 mt) and research catch (3.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 858 mt.
\s\ Longnose skate. 148.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (130 mt), incidental
  open access fishery (5.7 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), and research catch (12.5 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of
  1,852 mt.
\t\ Longspine thornyhead. 50.4 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (30 mt), the
  incidental open access fishery (6.2 mt), and research catch (14.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 2,420 mt.
\u\ Longspine thornyhead south of 34[deg]27' N lat. 1.4 mt is deducted from the ACL to research catch, resulting
  in a fishery HG of 779 mt.
\v\ Pacific cod. 506.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (500 mt), EFP catch (0.1
  mt), research catch (5.5 mt), and the incidental open access fishery (0.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of
  1,094 mt.
\w\ Pacific whiting. The 2020 OFL of 666,458 mt is based on the 2020 assessment with an F40% of FMSY proxy. The
  2020 coastwide adjusted Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is 575,000 mt. The U.S. TAC is 73.88 percent of the
  coastwide TAC. The 2020 adjusted U.S. TAC is 424,810 mt (367,202 mt unadjusted TAC + 57,608 mt carryover
  adjustment). From the adjusted U.S. TAC, 74,342 mt is deducted to accommodate the Tribal fishery, and 1,500 mt
  is deducted to accommodate research and bycatch in other fisheries, resulting in a 2020 fishery HG of 348,968
  mt. The TAC for Pacific whiting is established under the provisions of the Agreement with Canada on Pacific
  Hake/Whiting and the Pacific Whiting Act of 2006, 16 U.S.C. 7001-7010, and the international exception
  applies. Therefore, no ABC or ACL values are provided for Pacific whiting.
\x\ Pacific ocean perch north of 40[deg]10' N lat. 22.4 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal
  fishery (9.2 mt), the incidental open access fishery (10 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (3.1
  mt)-resulting in a fishery HG of 4,207 mt.
\y\ Petrale sole. 320.6 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (290 mt), the incidental
  open access fishery (6.4 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), and research catch (24.1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of
  2,524 mt.
\z\ Sablefish north of 36[deg] N lat. The 40-10 adjustment is applied to the ABC to derive a coastwide ACL value
  because the stock is in the precautionary zone. This coastwide ACL value is not specified in regulations. The
  coastwide ACL value is apportioned north and south of 36[deg] N lat., using the 2003-2014 average estimated
  swept area biomass from the NMFS NWFSC trawl survey, with 73.8 percent apportioned north of 36[deg] N lat. and
  26.2 percent apportioned south of 36[deg] N lat. The northern ACL is 5,723 mt and is reduced by 572 mt for the
  Tribal allocation (10 perceN of the ACL north of 36[deg] N lat.). The 572 mt Tribal allocation is reduced by
  1.5 percent to account for discard mortality. Detailed sablefish allocations are shown in Table 2c.
\aa\ Sablefish south of 36[deg] N lat. The ACL for the area south of 36[deg] N lat. is 2,032 mt (26.2 percent of
  the calculated coastwide ACL value). 4.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access
  fishery (1.8 mt) and research catch (2.4 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 2,028 mt.
\bb\ Shortbelly rockfish. 17.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery
  (8.9 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), and research catch (8.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 2,983 mt.
\cc\ Shortspine thornyhead north of 34[deg]27' N lat. 65.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal
  fishery (50 mt), the incidental open access fishery (4.7 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), and research catch (10.5
  mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,604 mt for the area north of 34[deg]27' N lat.
\dd\ Shortspine thornyhead south of 34[deg]27' N lat. 1.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the
  incidental open access fishery (0.5 mt) and research catch (0.7 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 882 mt for
  the area south of 34[deg]27' N lat.
\ee\ Spiny dogfish. 333 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (275 mt), the incidental
  open access fishery (22.6 mt), EFP catch (1.1 mt), and research catch (34.3 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of
  1,726 mt.
\ff\ Splitnose rockfish south of 40[deg]10' N lat. Splitnose rockfish in the north is managed in the Slope
  Rockfish complex and with stock-specific harvest specifications south of 40[deg]10' N lat. 16.6 mt is deducted
  from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (5.8 mt), research catch (9.3 mt) and EFP catch
  (1.5 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,714 mt.
\gg\ Starry flounder. 18.8 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (2 mt), EFP catch (0.1
  mt), research catch (0.6 mt), and the incidental open access fishery (16.1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of
  433 mt.
\hh\ Widow rockfish. 248.4 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (200 mt), the
  incidental open access fishery (3.1 mt), EFP catch (28 mt) and research catch (17.3 mt), resulting in a
  fishery HG of 10,951 mt.
\ii\ Yellowtail rockfish north of 40[deg]10' N lat. 1,045.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the
  Tribal fishery (1,000 mt), the incidental open access fishery (4.5 mt), EFP catch (20 mt) and research catch
  (20.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 4,941 mt.
\jj\ Black rockfishBlue rockfishDeacon rockfish (Oregon). 1.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the
  incidental open access fishery (0.3 mt) and EFP catch (0.9 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 609 mt.
\kk\ CabezonKelp greenling (Oregon). 0.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate EFP catch, resulting in a
  fishery HG of 204 mt.
\ll\ CabezonKelp greenling (Washington). There are no deductions from the ACL so the fishery HG is equal to the
  ACL of 10 mt.
\mm\ Nearshore Rockfish north of 40[deg]10' N lat. 2.8 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal
  fishery (1.5 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt), research catch (0.3), and the incidental open access fishery (0.9 mt),
  resulting in a fishery HG of 79 mt.
\nn\ Shelf Rockfish north of 40[deg]10' N lat. 76.9 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal
  fishery (30 mt), the incidental open access fishery (17.7 mt), EFP catch (4.5 mt), and research catch (24.7
  mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,971 mt.
\oo\ Slope Rockfish north of 40[deg]10' N lat. 80.8 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal
  fishery (36 mt), the incidental open access fishery (21.7 mt), EFP catch (1.5 mt), and research catch (21.6
  mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,651 mt.
\pp\ Nearshore Rockfish south of 40[deg]10' N lat. 4.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental
  open access fishery (1.4 mt) and research catch (2.7 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,159 mt.

[[Page 36814]]

 
\qq\ Shelf Rockfish south of 40[deg]10' N lat. 79.1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental
  open access fishery (4.6 mt), EFP catch (60 mt), and research catch (14.5 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of
  1,546 mt.
\rr\ Slope Rockfish south of 40[deg]10' N lat. 20.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental
  open access fishery (16.9 mt), EFP catch (1 mt), and research catch (2.3 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 723
  mt. Blackgill rockfish has a stock-specific HG for the entire groundfish fishery south of 40[deg]10' N lat.
  set equal to the species' contribution to the 40-10-adjusted ACL. Harvest of blackgill rockfish in all
  groundfish fisheries south of 40[deg]10' N lat. counts against this HG of 159 mt.
\ss\ Other Flatfish. The Other Flatfish complex is comprised of flatfish species managed in the PCGFMP that are
  not managed with stock-specific OFLs/ABCs/ACLs. MoS of the species in the Other Flatfish complex are
  unassessed and include: Butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, Pacific sanddab, rock sole, sand sole, and
  rex sole. 249.5 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (60 mt), the incidental open
  access fishery (161.6 mt), EFP fishing (0.1 mt), and research catch (27.8 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of
  5,792 mt.
\tt\ Other Fish. The Other Fish complex is comprised of kelp greenling off California and leopard shark
  coastwide. 8.9 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (8.8 mt) and
  research catch (0.1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 230 mt.


0
4. Revise table 2b to part 660, subpart C, to read as follows:

                               Table 2b to Part 660, Subpart C--2020, and Beyond, Allocations by Species or Species Group
                                                                 [Weight in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                       Trawl                         Non-trawl
          Stocks/stock complexes                        Area               Fishery HG or ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                              ACT \a\            %              Mt               %              Mt
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arrowtooth flounder.......................  Coastwide...................        10,655.1              95        10,122.3               5           532.8
Big skate \a\.............................  Coastwide...................           452.1              95           429.5               5            22.6
Bocaccio \a\..............................  S of 40[deg]10' N lat.......         1,964.9              39           767.1              61         1,197.8
Canary rockfish \a\.......................  Coastwide...................         1,300.9              72           940.3              28           360.6
Chilipepper rockfish......................  S of 40[deg]10' N lat.......         2,325.1              75         1,743.8              25           581.3
COWCOD \a\................................  S of 40[deg]10' N lat.......             9.0              36             3.2              64             5.8
Darkblotched rockfish.....................  Coastwide...................           781.2              95           742.1               5            39.1
Dover sole................................  Coastwide...................        48,404.4              95        45,984.2               5         2,420.2
English sole..............................  Coastwide...................         9,918.8              95         9,422.9               5           495.9
Lingcod...................................  N of 40'10[deg] N lat.......         4,263.0              45         1,918.4              55         2,344.7
Lingcod...................................  S of 40'10[deg] N lat.......           857.7              45           386.0              55           471.7
Longnose skate \a\........................  Coastwide...................         1,851.7              90         1,666.5              10           185.2
Longspine thornyhead......................  N of 34[deg]27' N lat.......         2,419.6              95         2,298.6               5           121.0
Pacific cod...............................  Coastwide...................         1,093.8              95         1,039.1               5            54.7
Pacific whiting \b\.......................  Coastwide...................         348,968             100         348,968               0               0
Pacific ocean perch.......................  N of 40[deg]10' N lat.......         4,206.6              95         3,996.3               5           210.3
Petrale sole..............................  Coastwide...................         2,524.4              95         2,398.2               5           126.2
                                                                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish.................................  N of 36[deg] N lat..........              NA                           See Table 2c
                                                                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish.................................  S of 36[deg] N lat..........         2,027.8              42           851.7              58         1,176.1
Shortspine thornyhead.....................  N of 34[deg]27' N lat.......         1,603.7              95         1,523.5               5            80.2
Shortspine thornyhead.....................  S of 34[deg]27' N lat.......           881.8              NA            50.0              NA           831.8
Splitnose rockfish........................  S of 40[deg]10' N lat.......         1,714.4              95         1,628.7               5            85.7
Starry flounder...........................  Coastwide...................           433.2              50           216.6              50           216.6
Widow rockfish............................  Coastwide...................        10,950.6              91         9,965.0               9           985.6
YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH........................  Coastwide...................            42.9               8             3.4              92            39.5
Yellowtail rockfish.......................  N of 40[deg]10' N lat.......         4,940.9              88         4,348.0              12           592.9
Minor Shelf Rockfish North................  N of 40[deg]10' N lat.......         1,971.1            60.2         1,186.6            39.8           784.5
Minor Shelf Rockfish South................  S of 40[deg]10' N lat.......         1,545.9            12.2           188.6            87.8         1,357.3
Minor Slope Rockfish North................  N of 40[deg]10' N lat.......         1,651.2              81         1,337.5              19           313.7
Minor Slope Rockfish South................  S of 40[deg]10' N lat.......           722.8              63           455.4              37           267.4
Other Flatfish............................  Coastwide...................         5,791.5              90         5,212.4              10           579.2
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\a\ Allocations decided through the biennial specification process.
\b\ Consistent with regulations at Sec.   660.55(i)(2), the commercial harvest guideline for Pacific whiting is allocated as follows: 34 Percent
  (118,649 mt) for the C/P Coop Program; 24 percent (83,752 mt) for the MS Coop Program; and 42 percent (146,567 mt) for the Shorebased IFQ Program. No
  more than 5 percent of the Shorebased IFQ Program allocation (7,328 mt) may be taken and retained south of 42[deg] N lat. before the start of the
  primary Pacific whiting season north of 42[deg] N lat.



0
5. In Sec.  660.140, revise paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(D) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.140   Shorebased IFQ Program.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (D) Pacific whiting and non-whiting QP shorebased trawl 
allocations. For the trawl fishery, NMFS will issue QP based on the 
following shorebased trawl allocations:

[[Page 36815]]



                                       Table 1 To Paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(D)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                       2019            2020
                                                                                    Shorebased      Shorebased
                IFQ species                                  Area                      trawl           trawl
                                                                                    allocation      allocation
                                                                                       (mt)            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arrowtooth flounder........................  Coastwide..........................        12,735.1        10,052.3
Bocaccio...................................  South of 40[deg]10' N lat..........           800.7           767.1
Canary rockfish............................  Coastwide..........................           953.6           894.3
Chilipepper................................  South of 40[deg]10' N lat..........         1,838.3         1,743.8
COWCOD.....................................  South of 40[deg]10' N lat..........             2.2             3.2
Darkblotched rockfish......................  Coastwide..........................           658.4           703.4
Dover sole.................................  Coastwide..........................        45,979.2        45,979.2
English sole...............................  Coastwide..........................         9,375.1         9,417.9
Lingcod....................................  North of 40[deg]10' N lat..........         2,051.9         1,903.4
Lingcod....................................  South of 40[deg]10' N lat..........           462.5           386.0
Longspine thornyhead.......................  North of 34[deg]27' N lat..........         2,420.0         2,293.6
Minor Shelf Rockfish complex...............  North of 40[deg]10' N lat..........         1,155.2         1,151.6
Minor Shelf Rockfish complex...............  South of 40[deg]10' N lat..........           188.6           188.6
Minor Slope Rockfish complex...............  North of 40[deg]10' N lat..........         1,248.8         1,237.5
Minor Slope Rockfish complex...............  South of 40[deg]10' N lat..........           456.0           455.4
Other Flatfish complex.....................  Coastwide..........................         5,603.7         5,192.4
Pacific cod................................  Coastwide..........................         1,034.1         1,034.1
Pacific ocean perch........................  North of 40[deg]10' N lat..........         3,697.3         3,602.2
Pacific whiting............................  Coastwide..........................       152,326.5         146,567
Petrale sole...............................  Coastwide..........................         2,453.0         2,393.2
Sablefish..................................  North of 36[deg] N lat.............         2,581.3         2,636.8
Sablefish..................................  South of 36[deg] N lat.............           834.0           851.7
Shortspine thornyhead......................  North of 34[deg]27' N lat..........         1,506.8         1,493.5
Shortspine thornyhead......................  South of 34[deg]27' N lat..........            50.0            50.0
Splitnose rockfish.........................  South of 40[deg]10' N lat..........         1,646.7         1,628.7
Starry flounder............................  Coastwide..........................           211.6           211.6
Widow rockfish.............................  Coastwide..........................         9,928.8         9,387.1
YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH.........................  Coastwide..........................             3.4             3.4
Yellowtail rockfish........................  North of 40[deg]10' N lat..........         4,305.8         4,048.0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *

[FR Doc. 2020-12959 Filed 6-17-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P