Pacific Island Fisheries; 2020 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits, 50961-50962 [2020-17464]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 161 / Wednesday, August 19, 2020 / Rules and Regulations minimum population abundance (Nmin), used for computation of PBR, is calculated as 1,567 animals. The PBR for this stock within the EEZ is calculated to be 16 pelagic false killer whales. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act Guidelines for Assessing Marine Mammal Stocks (NMFS 2012), the 5-year (2015–2019) average M/SI rate of pelagic false killer whales within the Hawaii EEZ incidental to the Hawaii longline deep-set fishery is 9.8 whales per year. Based on this information, NMFS has determined that criterion (iv) of the Plan is met, with the 5-year average estimated false killer whale M/ SI incidental to the deep-set longline fishery (9.8 whales) below PBR level for the Hawaii Pelagic stock of false killer whales (16 whales). Consequently, in compliance with 50 CFR 229.37(e)(8) NMFS is reopening the SEZ to Hawaii deep-set longline fishing. Information on the Plan is available on the internet at the following address: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/pacificislands/marine-mammal-protection/ pacific-islands-region-false-killer-whaletake-reduction-team. NOAA Administrative Report H–20–06 is available on the internet at the following address: https://doi.org/10.25923/wmg3ps37, and NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS–PIFSC–104 is available on the internet at the following address: https://doi.org/10.25923/2jjgp807. Copies of reference materials may also be obtained from the NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office, Protected Resources Division, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. This document serves as advance notification to fishermen, the fishing industry, and the general public that the SEZ will be opened to deep-set longline fishing starting on August 25, 2020. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Classification There is good cause to waive prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). Prior notice and comment is unnecessary because the take reduction plan final rule (77 FR 71259, November 29, 2012) that implements the procedure reopening the SEZ (codified at 50 CFR 229.37(e)) has already been subject to an extensive public process, including the opportunity for prior notice and comment. All that remains is to notify the public that the SEZ reopening criteria defined in the Plan regulations have been met and the SEZ will be opened to deep-set longline fishing. This action is required by 50 CFR 229.37(e)(7), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:52 Aug 18, 2020 Jkt 250001 Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq. Dated: August 14, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–18308 Filed 8–18–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 665 [Docket No. 200805–0205; RTID 0648– XP010] Pacific Island Fisheries; 2020 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final specifications. AGENCY: NMFS specifies a 2020 limit of 2,000 metric tons (t) of longlinecaught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)). NMFS will allow each territory to allocate up to 1,500 t each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria, but the overall allocation limit among all territories may not exceed 3,000 t. As an accountability measure, NMFS will monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary) catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under a specified fishing agreement. These catch limits and accountability measures support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. DATES: The final specifications are effective August 17, 2020, through December 31, 2020. The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement pursuant to 50 CFR 665.819(b)(3) for review is December 17, 2020. ADDRESSES: Copies of the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific (Pelagic FEP) are available from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808–522–8220, fax 808– 522–8226, or www.wpcouncil.org. NMFS prepared environmental analyses that describe the potential impacts on the human environment that would result from the action. Copies of SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 50961 those analyses, which include a supplemental environmental assessment (SEA) and a finding of no significant impact (FONSI), are available from http://www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20200078, or from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynn Rassel, NMFS PIRO Sustainable Fisheries, 808–725–5184. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS is specifying a 2020 catch limit of 2,000 t of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory. NMFS is also authorizing each U.S. Pacific territory to allocate up to 1,500 t of its 2,000 t bigeye tuna limit, not to exceed a 3,000 t total annual allocation limit among all the territories, to U.S. longline fishing vessels that are permitted to fish under the Pelagic FEP. Those vessels must be identified in a specified fishing agreement with the applicable territory. NMFS will monitor catches of longlinecaught bigeye tuna by the longline fisheries of each U.S Pacific territory, including catches made by U.S. longline vessels operating under specified fishing agreements. The criteria that a specified fishing agreement must meet, and the process for attributing longlinecaught bigeye tuna, will follow the procedures in 50 CFR 665.819. When NMFS projects that a territorial catch or allocation limit will be reached, NMFS will, as an accountability measure, prohibit the catch and retention of longline-caught bigeye tuna by vessels in the applicable territory (if the territorial catch limit is projected to be reached), and/or vessels in a specified fishing agreement (if the allocation limit is projected to be reached). You may find additional background information on this action in the preamble to the proposed specifications published on July 9, 2020 (85 FR 41223). Comments and Responses On July 9, 2020, NMFS published the proposed specifications and request for public comments (85 FR 41223); the comment period closed on July 24, 2020. NMFS received comments from three submitters, and responds below. We made no changes to the final specifications in response to comments on the proposed specifications. NMFS also received comments suggesting minor housekeeping corrections and clarifications when finalizing the SEA, which we made in the final SEA. In addition, in light of the decision in Territory of American Samoa v. NMFS, E:\FR\FM\19AUR1.SGM 19AUR1 50962 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 161 / Wednesday, August 19, 2020 / Rules and Regulations jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES et al. (16–cv–95, D. Haw), NMFS specifically invited public comments on the effect of the proposed action on cultural fishing in American Samoa. NMFS received no comments addressing American Samoa cultural fishing. Comment 1: Commercial fishing should be banned and only subsistence fishing should be allowed. Response: Seafood is an important source of protein for many people, and commercial fishing provides fish for people who do not have the ability to fish for themselves. The proposed action allows for the sustainable harvest of bigeye tuna, consistent with the Pelagic FEP, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), and other applicable laws. The commercial Hawaii longline fishery is an important supplier of high-quality seafood that supports local seafood demand. Local commercial fisheries also provide jobs and revenue for fishermen, seafood markets, and supporting industries. This action also reduces the dependence on foreign fishing, which may be less stringently monitored or regulated than U.S. fisheries. Comment 2: The Hawaii Longline Association (HLA) generally supports this action, noting the importance of annual bigeye tuna specifications in providing additional bigeye tuna for the Hawaii longline fishery, and the support for fisheries development in the territories. While the HLA does not think a total annual allocation cap of 3,000 t is necessary because the bigeye tuna stock is healthy and in consideration of various international actions and agreements among Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) members, the HLA supports the action. Response: NMFS is satisfied that the annual bigeye catch and allocation specifications are important for the management of sustainable fisheries and that the specified fishing agreements provide important fisheries development project funding. NMFS VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:52 Aug 18, 2020 Jkt 250001 notes that the increased allocation considers the needs of fishing communities by adding flexibility while continuing to support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. Utilizing the best scientific information available, NMFS has determined that these catch and allocation limits are consistent with WCPFC objectives. NMFS acknowledges that the WCPFC has not adopted bigeye limits for the U.S. territories and that the Council has recommended amending the Pelagic FEP and Federal regulations to remove the requirement to specify catch limits for the territories before specifying allocation limits. However, a plan amendment and proposed regulations to implement this Council recommendation have yet to be developed. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the Pelagic FEP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. Because this rule relieves a possible restriction, the exception in 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) applies so that it is not subject to the 30-day delayed effectiveness provision of the Administrative Procedure Act. This rule allows U.S. vessels identified in a valid specified fishing agreement to continue fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) even if NMFS closes the longline fishery for bigeye tuna. Consistent with Conservation and Management Measure 2018–01 adopted by the WCPFC at its December 2018 meeting, the bigeye tuna catch limit applicable to U.S. longline fisheries in the WCPO in 2019–2020 is 3,554 t. When NMFS projects that the limit will be reached, NMFS must close the fishery for bigeye tuna in the WCPO. Regulations at 50 CFR 665.819 require NMFS to begin attributing longline caught bigeye tuna to the U.S. territory PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 to which a fishing agreement applies either seven days before the date NMFS projects that the fishery will reach the WCPO U.S bigeye tuna limit, or upon the effective date of the agreement, whichever is later. Based on longline catch records to date, NMFS projects the current 3,554 t limit of WCPO bigeye tuna will be reached in September 2020. This projected date is subject to change, and the projected date throughout 2020 has often been earlier in the year as the fishing year has progressed. If the effectiveness of this final rule is delayed past the date that the WCPO bigeye tuna limit is reached, NMFS would be required to publish a temporary rule that restricts the retention of WCPO bigeye tuna in the Hawaii-based longline fishery until this final rule is effective. After the effective date, NMFS would remove the restrictions for U.S. vessels identified in a valid specified fishing agreement with a U.S. territory. Implementing this rule immediately allows the fishery to continue fishing without the uncertainty or disruption of a potential closure. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that the proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. NMFS published the factual basis for the certification in the proposed rule, and we do not repeat it here. NMFS received no comments on this certification; as a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis is not required, and none has been prepared. This final rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq. Dated: August 5, 2020. Donna S. Wieting, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–17464 Filed 8–17–20; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\19AUR1.SGM 19AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 161 (Wednesday, August 19, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 50961-50962]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-17464]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 665

[Docket No. 200805-0205; RTID 0648-XP010]


Pacific Island Fisheries; 2020 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye 
Tuna Catch Limits

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

ACTION: Final specifications.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS specifies a 2020 limit of 2,000 metric tons (t) of 
longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory (American 
Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands 
(CNMI)). NMFS will allow each territory to allocate up to 1,500 t each 
year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement 
that meets established criteria, but the overall allocation limit among 
all territories may not exceed 3,000 t. As an accountability measure, 
NMFS will monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary) catches of 
longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under a specified 
fishing agreement. These catch limits and accountability measures 
support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. 
Pacific Islands.

DATES: The final specifications are effective August 17, 2020, through 
December 31, 2020. The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement 
pursuant to 50 CFR 665.819(b)(3) for review is December 17, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries 
of the Western Pacific (Pelagic FEP) are available from the Western 
Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 Bishop St., Suite 
1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808-522-8220, fax 808-522-8226, or 
www.wpcouncil.org.
    NMFS prepared environmental analyses that describe the potential 
impacts on the human environment that would result from the action. 
Copies of those analyses, which include a supplemental environmental 
assessment (SEA) and a finding of no significant impact (FONSI), are 
available from http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-
2020-0078, or from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS 
Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 
96818.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynn Rassel, NMFS PIRO Sustainable 
Fisheries, 808-725-5184.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS is specifying a 2020 catch limit of 
2,000 t of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory. 
NMFS is also authorizing each U.S. Pacific territory to allocate up to 
1,500 t of its 2,000 t bigeye tuna limit, not to exceed a 3,000 t total 
annual allocation limit among all the territories, to U.S. longline 
fishing vessels that are permitted to fish under the Pelagic FEP. Those 
vessels must be identified in a specified fishing agreement with the 
applicable territory. NMFS will monitor catches of longline-caught 
bigeye tuna by the longline fisheries of each U.S Pacific territory, 
including catches made by U.S. longline vessels operating under 
specified fishing agreements. The criteria that a specified fishing 
agreement must meet, and the process for attributing longline-caught 
bigeye tuna, will follow the procedures in 50 CFR 665.819. When NMFS 
projects that a territorial catch or allocation limit will be reached, 
NMFS will, as an accountability measure, prohibit the catch and 
retention of longline-caught bigeye tuna by vessels in the applicable 
territory (if the territorial catch limit is projected to be reached), 
and/or vessels in a specified fishing agreement (if the allocation 
limit is projected to be reached).
    You may find additional background information on this action in 
the preamble to the proposed specifications published on July 9, 2020 
(85 FR 41223).

Comments and Responses

    On July 9, 2020, NMFS published the proposed specifications and 
request for public comments (85 FR 41223); the comment period closed on 
July 24, 2020. NMFS received comments from three submitters, and 
responds below. We made no changes to the final specifications in 
response to comments on the proposed specifications.
    NMFS also received comments suggesting minor housekeeping 
corrections and clarifications when finalizing the SEA, which we made 
in the final SEA.
    In addition, in light of the decision in Territory of American 
Samoa v. NMFS,

[[Page 50962]]

et al. (16-cv-95, D. Haw), NMFS specifically invited public comments on 
the effect of the proposed action on cultural fishing in American 
Samoa. NMFS received no comments addressing American Samoa cultural 
fishing.
    Comment 1: Commercial fishing should be banned and only subsistence 
fishing should be allowed.
    Response: Seafood is an important source of protein for many 
people, and commercial fishing provides fish for people who do not have 
the ability to fish for themselves. The proposed action allows for the 
sustainable harvest of bigeye tuna, consistent with the Pelagic FEP, 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act), and other applicable laws. The commercial Hawaii longline 
fishery is an important supplier of high-quality seafood that supports 
local seafood demand. Local commercial fisheries also provide jobs and 
revenue for fishermen, seafood markets, and supporting industries. This 
action also reduces the dependence on foreign fishing, which may be 
less stringently monitored or regulated than U.S. fisheries.
    Comment 2: The Hawaii Longline Association (HLA) generally supports 
this action, noting the importance of annual bigeye tuna specifications 
in providing additional bigeye tuna for the Hawaii longline fishery, 
and the support for fisheries development in the territories. While the 
HLA does not think a total annual allocation cap of 3,000 t is 
necessary because the bigeye tuna stock is healthy and in consideration 
of various international actions and agreements among Western and 
Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) members, the HLA supports 
the action.
    Response: NMFS is satisfied that the annual bigeye catch and 
allocation specifications are important for the management of 
sustainable fisheries and that the specified fishing agreements provide 
important fisheries development project funding. NMFS notes that the 
increased allocation considers the needs of fishing communities by 
adding flexibility while continuing to support the long-term 
sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. 
Utilizing the best scientific information available, NMFS has 
determined that these catch and allocation limits are consistent with 
WCPFC objectives. NMFS acknowledges that the WCPFC has not adopted 
bigeye limits for the U.S. territories and that the Council has 
recommended amending the Pelagic FEP and Federal regulations to remove 
the requirement to specify catch limits for the territories before 
specifying allocation limits. However, a plan amendment and proposed 
regulations to implement this Council recommendation have yet to be 
developed.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is 
consistent with the Pelagic FEP, other provisions of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration 
after public comment.
    Because this rule relieves a possible restriction, the exception in 
5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) applies so that it is not subject to the 30-day 
delayed effectiveness provision of the Administrative Procedure Act. 
This rule allows U.S. vessels identified in a valid specified fishing 
agreement to continue fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean 
(WCPO) even if NMFS closes the longline fishery for bigeye tuna. 
Consistent with Conservation and Management Measure 2018-01 adopted by 
the WCPFC at its December 2018 meeting, the bigeye tuna catch limit 
applicable to U.S. longline fisheries in the WCPO in 2019-2020 is 3,554 
t. When NMFS projects that the limit will be reached, NMFS must close 
the fishery for bigeye tuna in the WCPO. Regulations at 50 CFR 665.819 
require NMFS to begin attributing longline caught bigeye tuna to the 
U.S. territory to which a fishing agreement applies either seven days 
before the date NMFS projects that the fishery will reach the WCPO U.S 
bigeye tuna limit, or upon the effective date of the agreement, 
whichever is later. Based on longline catch records to date, NMFS 
projects the current 3,554 t limit of WCPO bigeye tuna will be reached 
in September 2020. This projected date is subject to change, and the 
projected date throughout 2020 has often been earlier in the year as 
the fishing year has progressed. If the effectiveness of this final 
rule is delayed past the date that the WCPO bigeye tuna limit is 
reached, NMFS would be required to publish a temporary rule that 
restricts the retention of WCPO bigeye tuna in the Hawaii-based 
longline fishery until this final rule is effective. After the 
effective date, NMFS would remove the restrictions for U.S. vessels 
identified in a valid specified fishing agreement with a U.S. 
territory. Implementing this rule immediately allows the fishery to 
continue fishing without the uncertainty or disruption of a potential 
closure.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that the proposed rule would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. NMFS 
published the factual basis for the certification in the proposed rule, 
and we do not repeat it here. NMFS received no comments on this 
certification; as a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis is 
not required, and none has been prepared.
    This final rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq.

    Dated: August 5, 2020.
Donna S. Wieting,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-17464 Filed 8-17-20; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P