Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit, 56569-56571 [2020-19060]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 178 / Monday, September 14, 2020 / Proposed Rules Notice of Required Use of American Iron, Steel, and Manufactured Goods— Buy American Statute—Construction Materials (DATE) DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE * * * * * 29. Amend section 52.225–23 by— ■ a. Revising the date of the clause; and ■ b. Removing from paragraph (b)(4)(i)(B) ‘‘6 percent’’ and adding ‘‘20 percent’’ in its place. The revision reads as follows: 50 CFR Part 600 52.225–23 Required Use of American Iron, Steel, and Manufactured Goods—Buy American Statute—Construction Materials Under Trade Agreements. AGENCY: ■ * * * * * Required Use of American Iron, Steel, and Manufactured Goods—Buy American Statute—Construction Materials Under Trade Agreements (DATE) * * * * * 30. Amend section 52.225–24 by— ■ a. Revising the date of the provision; ■ b. Removing from paragraph (b) ‘‘offeror’’ and adding ‘‘Offeror’’ in its place wherever it appears; ■ c. Removing from paragraph (c)(1)(ii) ‘‘6 percent’’ and adding ‘‘20 percent’’ in its place; ■ d. Removing from paragraph (c)(3) ‘‘offeror’’ and adding ‘‘Offeror’’ in its place; and ■ e. Removing from paragraphs (d)(1), (2), and (3) introductory text ‘‘offeror’’ and adding ‘‘Offeror’’ in their places, respectively. The revision reads as follows: ■ 52.225–24 Notice of Required Use of American Iron, Steel, and Manufactured Goods—Buy American Statute— Construction Materials Under Trade Agreements. * * * * * Notice of Required Use of American Iron, Steel, and Manufactured Goods— Buy American Statute—Construction Materials Under Trade Agreements (DATE) khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–20116 Filed 9–11–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820–EP–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:50 Sep 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA356] Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notification; request for comments. NMFS announces the receipt of an exempted fishing permit application titled, ‘‘Year-round Coastwide Midwater Rockfish EFP: Monitoring and Minimizing Salmon Bycatch When Targeting Rockfish in the Shorebased IFQ Fishery, 2021–2022.’’ The application, submitted by the West Coast Seafood Processors Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Oregon Trawl Commission, and Midwater Trawlers Cooperative, requests a permit to test whether removing certain gear, time, and area restrictions for vessels fishing under the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program’s Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota Program may impact the nature and extent of bycatch of prohibited species (e.g., Chinook salmon). This exempted fishing permit would allow participating groundfish bottom and midwater trawl vessels more flexibility than allowed in current regulations to target pelagic rockfish species, such as widow, chilipepper, and yellowtail rockfish. Regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act require publication of this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for proposed exempted fishing permits. DATES: Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time on September 29, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2020–0097, by the following method: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20200097, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 56569 or attach your comments. The EFP application will be available under ‘‘Supporting and Related Materials’’ through the same link. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and would generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender would be publicly accessible. NMFS would accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments would be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynn Massey, West Coast Region, NMFS, at (562) 436–2462, lynn.massey@ noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This action is authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and regulations at 50 CFR 600.745, which allow NMFS Regional Administrators to authorize exempted fishing permits (EFPs) to test fishing activities that would otherwise be prohibited. At the June 2020 Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) meeting, the Council voted to recommend that NMFS approve an EFP application titled, ‘‘Year-round Coastwide Midwater Rockfish EFP: Monitoring and Minimizing Salmon Bycatch When Targeting Rockfish in the Shorebased IFQ Fishery, 2021–2022’’ (herein referred to as the ‘‘2021 Trawl Gear EFP’’) for the 2021 fishing year, and made the preliminary decision to recommend continuing the EFP project in 2022. The applicants (i.e., the West Coast Seafood Processors Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Oregon Trawl Commission, and Midwater Trawlers Cooperative) submitted the application as a renewal request to continue EFP research conducted since 2017; the multi-year EFP project is collectively referred to as the ‘‘Trawl Gear EFP.’’ The Trawl Gear EFP project allows up to 60 vessels participating in the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program’s Limited Entry Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program to test whether removing certain gear, time, and area restrictions may impact the nature and extent of bycatch of protected and prohibited E:\FR\FM\14SEP1.SGM 14SEP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 56570 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 178 / Monday, September 14, 2020 / Proposed Rules species (i.e., Chinook salmon, coho, eulachon, and green sturgeon). Since 2017, NMFS has annually modified the suite of exemptions allowed under the Trawl Gear EFP project as certain groundfish regulations are lifted or revised. For a history of the authorized exemptions, see 81 FR 96437 (December 30, 2016) for the 2017 EFP, 82 FR 52882 (November 15, 2017) for the 2018 EFP, 83 FR 61603 (November 30, 2018) for the 2019 EFP, and 84 FR 56246 (October 22, 2019) for the 2020 EFP. Exemptions originally proposed by the applicants and published in the Federal Register notice for the 2020 Trawl Gear EFP were later modified to reflect regulatory changes to groundfish closed areas implemented via Amendment 28 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP (See 84 FR 63966, November 19, 2019). The modified 2020 Trawl Gear EFP exemptions are consistent with the exemptions requested by the applicants for the 2021 and 2022 Trawl Gear EFPs (see below list). For the 2021 Trawl Gear EFP project, the application requests exemptions from the following limited entry trawl fisheries regulations: • For vessels fishing with bottom trawl groundfish gear: D The requirement to use selective flatfish trawl gear, and the prohibition on using small footrope gear other than selective flatfish trawl gear between 42° and 40°10′ North latitude (N) and shoreward of the boundary line approximating the 100 fathom (fm) depth contour (See § 660.130(c)(2)(i) and (c)(2)(ii)); and D The requirement that selective flatfish trawl must be a two-seamed net with no more than two riblines, excluding the codend (See § 660.130(b)(1)(ii)(A)). • For vessels fishing with midwater trawl groundfish gear: D The prohibition on fishing outside the primary season dates for the Pacific whiting IFQ fishery (See § 660.112(b)(x) and § 660.130(c)(3)); D The prohibition on fishing south of 40°10′ N lat. shoreward of the boundary line approximating the 150 fm depth contour (See § 660.130(c)(3)(ii) and (c)(4)(ii)(B)). • For vessels fishing with either midwater or bottom trawl groundfish gear: D The prohibition on retaining certain prohibited species (See § 660.12 (a)(1)); and D The requirement to discard certain prohibited species at sea (See § 660.140 (g)(1)). If NMFS approves this EFP, vessels fishing on an EFP trip with limited entry bottom trawl gear would be VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:50 Sep 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 permitted to use any small footrope gear that meets the definition in regulations at § 660.11 between 42° N lat. and 40°10′ N lat and shoreward of the 100 fm depth contour. Vessels fishing on an EFP trip with limited entry bottom trawl gear would also be permitted to use both two- and four-seam selective flatfish trawl nets with two- or four-riblines, excluding the codend. Vessels fishing on an EFP trip with limited entry midwater trawl gear would be permitted to fish south of 40°10′ N lat. shoreward of the 150 fm depth contour. Additionally, vessels fishing on an EFP trip with limited entry midwater trawl gear would not be constrained to the Pacific whiting primary season dates in existing groundfish regulations. Participating vessels would be required to carry observers or use a NMFSapproved electronic monitoring system on 100 percent of trips, as is currently required in the IFQ program. Participating vessels would also be required to retain all salmon (excluding salmon already sampled by NMFS’ West Coast Groundfish Observer Program) until offloading. A goal of this EFP project is to collect information on the effects of lifting the restrictions described above on bycatch, including bycatch of Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed salmon, eulachon, and green sturgeon. Previous analyses suggest that bycatch rates of these ESA-listed species could increase as a result of the changes in gear configurations from the Trawl Gear EFP. However, because a targeted fishery for chilipepper, widow, and yellowtail rockfish has not existed in more than a decade, and because the current groundfish trawl fishery has changed considerably in recent years, available data may have limited utility for predicting current impacts to protected and prohibited species in fisheries conducted with the exemptions that would be allowed under this EFP application being considered. NMFS staff worked with the applicants to inform their development of this EFP application, advising on what might increase the ability of fishery participants to target pelagic rockfish species while also minimizing bycatch to the extent practicable and ensuring adequate bycatch information can be collected. To address potential increased protected and prohibited species encounters, the Council recommended that EFP applicants adhere to area-based Chinook salmon bycatch limits for midwater trawl and bottom trawl EFP vessels in 2021 and 2022. Under this proposal, if Chinook salmon catch on EFP trips for either gear PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 type reaches the applicable bycatch limit, NMFS would revoke the EFP for that gear type for the remainder of the year. If this EFP is approved, NMFS would set a bycatch limit of 1,000 Chinook salmon north of 42° N lat. and 100 Chinook salmon south of 42° N lat. for vessels declared into the EFP, regardless of gear type. If either of these bycatch limits are reached, NMFS would revoke the EFP for both gear types in the respective management area (i.e., north or south of 42° N lat.). The application includes a requirement to retain and land salmon bycatch on all EFP trips, consistent with current requirements for vessels participating in the shoreside Pacific whiting fishery. The intent of this provision is to provide a complete census of salmon bycatch for each EFP trip and maximize the amount of biological and genetic salmon samples. In the event that more salmon are landed than what the onboard observer can sample, the vessel would notify their respective state fish and wildlife agency upon returning to port to give them the opportunity to collect and sample the excess salmon bycatch. The EFP applicants have not proposed a specific list of participating vessels, but consistent with previous years, are proposing that NMFS publish a public notice to gauge interest from limited entry groundfish midwater and bottom trawl vessels. Depending on the amount of interest and where vessels may be fishing, NMFS may need to limit participation by time and area to mitigate potential impacts. Information collected under the EFP would be used to support analysis for potential new gear regulations and modifications to existing gear regulations. Because many of the current gear regulations have been in place for more than ten years, it is difficult for NMFS, the Council, and industry to predict the impacts of removing these regulations. In the past 10 years, the industry has changed significantly. Reduction in capacity, innovations in gear technologies, and changes in management have all contributed to these changes. The information collected through the fishing under this EFP would help demonstrate what potential impacts, if any, today’s fleet may have if some of the current gear, area, and time regulations are modified from what is currently in regulation. NMFS has already used data from the prior years of the EFP project to modify regulations that were no longer necessary due to changes in the groundfish fishery and the improved status of several overfished groundfish stocks. For E:\FR\FM\14SEP1.SGM 14SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 178 / Monday, September 14, 2020 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS example, data from the 2017 and 2018 EFPs helped modify regulations that restricted the use and configuration of trawl gear via a December 3, 2018 final rule (See 83 FR 62269). NMFS is proposing to approve the 2021 Trawl Gear EFP, and preliminarily approve the 2022 Trawl Gear EFP, covering all the exemptions stated above, following the conclusion of the public comment period and review of public comment. NMFS would not issue another Federal Register notice soliciting public comment on renewing the Trawl Gear EFP for 2022 unless: (1) The applicants modify and resubmit their application to NMFS; (2) changes to relevant trawl fisheries regulations warrant a revised set of exemptions authorized under the EFP project; or (3) NMFS’ understanding of the current biological and economic impacts from EFP fishing activities substantially changes. Pending approval, NMFS would issue the permits for the EFP project to the vessel owner or designated representative as the ‘‘EFP holder.’’ NMFS intends to use an adaptive management approach in which NMFS may revise requirements and protocols to improve the program VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:50 Sep 11, 2020 Jkt 250001 without issuing another Federal Register notice, provided that the modifications fall within the scope of the original EFP. In addition, the applicants may request minor modifications and extensions to the EFP throughout the course of research. NMFS may grant EFP modifications and extensions without further public notice if the changes are essential to facilitate completing the proposed research and result in only a minimal change in the scope or impacts of the initially approved EFP request. NMFS analyzed the potential effects of implementing the 2018 Trawl Gear EFP in an environmental assessment (EA), dated December 2017 (Available at: http://www.westcoast.fisheries. noaa.gov). In that EA, NMFS stated that it anticipated issuing additional, similar, one-year EFPs that would cover a portion or all of the components discussed in the EA. Those EFPs would be supported by the analyses in the EA, as long as there were not substantial changes to the affected environment (e.g., status of the stock), components of the EFP (i.e., gear, area, and time restrictions), or unanticipated effects on the environment from permitting fishing PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 56571 activities that were not discussed in the EA’s analysis. Since the 2021 and 2022 Trawl Gear EFPs meet those criteria, NMFS does not anticipate any environmental impacts from the 2021– 2022 Trawl Gear EFP beyond those analyzed in the EA for the 2018 Trawl Gear and future similar EFPs. NMFS welcomes public comment on the NEPA coverage for this EFP. After publication of this document in the Federal Register, NMFS may approve and issue permits for the EFP project after the close of the public comment period. NMFS will consider comments submitted in deciding whether to approve the application as requested. NMFS may approve the application in its entirety or may make any alterations needed to achieve the goals of the EFP. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. Dated: August 25, 2020. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–19060 Filed 9–11–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\14SEP1.SGM 14SEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 178 (Monday, September 14, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 56569-56571]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-19060]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 600

[RTID 0648-XA356]


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic 
Fisheries; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Application for an 
Exempted Fishing Permit

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

ACTION: Notification; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces the receipt of an exempted fishing permit 
application titled, ``Year-round Coastwide Midwater Rockfish EFP: 
Monitoring and Minimizing Salmon Bycatch When Targeting Rockfish in the 
Shorebased IFQ Fishery, 2021-2022.'' The application, submitted by the 
West Coast Seafood Processors Association, Environmental Defense Fund, 
Oregon Trawl Commission, and Midwater Trawlers Cooperative, requests a 
permit to test whether removing certain gear, time, and area 
restrictions for vessels fishing under the West Coast Groundfish Trawl 
Rationalization Program's Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota Program 
may impact the nature and extent of bycatch of prohibited species 
(e.g., Chinook salmon). This exempted fishing permit would allow 
participating groundfish bottom and midwater trawl vessels more 
flexibility than allowed in current regulations to target pelagic 
rockfish species, such as widow, chilipepper, and yellowtail rockfish. 
Regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act require publication of this notification to provide 
interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for 
proposed exempted fishing permits.

DATES: Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time on 
September 29, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2020-0097, by the following method:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0097, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments. The EFP application will be available under 
``Supporting and Related Materials'' through the same link.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and would generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender would be publicly accessible. NMFS would accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments would be accepted in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynn Massey, West Coast Region, NMFS, 
at (562) 436-2462, noaa.gov">[email protected]noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This action is authorized by the Pacific 
Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and regulations at 50 
CFR 600.745, which allow NMFS Regional Administrators to authorize 
exempted fishing permits (EFPs) to test fishing activities that would 
otherwise be prohibited.
    At the June 2020 Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) 
meeting, the Council voted to recommend that NMFS approve an EFP 
application titled, ``Year-round Coastwide Midwater Rockfish EFP: 
Monitoring and Minimizing Salmon Bycatch When Targeting Rockfish in the 
Shorebased IFQ Fishery, 2021-2022'' (herein referred to as the ``2021 
Trawl Gear EFP'') for the 2021 fishing year, and made the preliminary 
decision to recommend continuing the EFP project in 2022. The 
applicants (i.e., the West Coast Seafood Processors Association, 
Environmental Defense Fund, Oregon Trawl Commission, and Midwater 
Trawlers Cooperative) submitted the application as a renewal request to 
continue EFP research conducted since 2017; the multi-year EFP project 
is collectively referred to as the ``Trawl Gear EFP.'' The Trawl Gear 
EFP project allows up to 60 vessels participating in the West Coast 
Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program's Limited Entry Shorebased 
Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program to test whether removing certain 
gear, time, and area restrictions may impact the nature and extent of 
bycatch of protected and prohibited

[[Page 56570]]

species (i.e., Chinook salmon, coho, eulachon, and green sturgeon). 
Since 2017, NMFS has annually modified the suite of exemptions allowed 
under the Trawl Gear EFP project as certain groundfish regulations are 
lifted or revised. For a history of the authorized exemptions, see 81 
FR 96437 (December 30, 2016) for the 2017 EFP, 82 FR 52882 (November 
15, 2017) for the 2018 EFP, 83 FR 61603 (November 30, 2018) for the 
2019 EFP, and 84 FR 56246 (October 22, 2019) for the 2020 EFP. 
Exemptions originally proposed by the applicants and published in the 
Federal Register notice for the 2020 Trawl Gear EFP were later modified 
to reflect regulatory changes to groundfish closed areas implemented 
via Amendment 28 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP (See 84 FR 63966, 
November 19, 2019). The modified 2020 Trawl Gear EFP exemptions are 
consistent with the exemptions requested by the applicants for the 2021 
and 2022 Trawl Gear EFPs (see below list).
    For the 2021 Trawl Gear EFP project, the application requests 
exemptions from the following limited entry trawl fisheries 
regulations:
     For vessels fishing with bottom trawl groundfish gear:
    [ssquf] The requirement to use selective flatfish trawl gear, and 
the prohibition on using small footrope gear other than selective 
flatfish trawl gear between 42[deg] and 40[deg]10' North latitude (N) 
and shoreward of the boundary line approximating the 100 fathom (fm) 
depth contour (See Sec.  660.130(c)(2)(i) and (c)(2)(ii)); and
    [ssquf] The requirement that selective flatfish trawl must be a 
two-seamed net with no more than two riblines, excluding the codend 
(See Sec.  660.130(b)(1)(ii)(A)).
     For vessels fishing with midwater trawl groundfish gear:
    [ssquf] The prohibition on fishing outside the primary season dates 
for the Pacific whiting IFQ fishery (See Sec.  660.112(b)(x) and Sec.  
660.130(c)(3));
    [ssquf] The prohibition on fishing south of 40[deg]10' N lat. 
shoreward of the boundary line approximating the 150 fm depth contour 
(See Sec.  660.130(c)(3)(ii) and (c)(4)(ii)(B)).
     For vessels fishing with either midwater or bottom trawl 
groundfish gear:
    [ssquf] The prohibition on retaining certain prohibited species 
(See Sec.  660.12 (a)(1)); and
    [ssquf] The requirement to discard certain prohibited species at 
sea (See Sec.  660.140 (g)(1)).
    If NMFS approves this EFP, vessels fishing on an EFP trip with 
limited entry bottom trawl gear would be permitted to use any small 
footrope gear that meets the definition in regulations at Sec.  660.11 
between 42[deg] N lat. and 40[deg]10' N lat and shoreward of the 100 fm 
depth contour. Vessels fishing on an EFP trip with limited entry bottom 
trawl gear would also be permitted to use both two- and four-seam 
selective flatfish trawl nets with two- or four-riblines, excluding the 
codend. Vessels fishing on an EFP trip with limited entry midwater 
trawl gear would be permitted to fish south of 40[deg]10' N lat. 
shoreward of the 150 fm depth contour. Additionally, vessels fishing on 
an EFP trip with limited entry midwater trawl gear would not be 
constrained to the Pacific whiting primary season dates in existing 
groundfish regulations. Participating vessels would be required to 
carry observers or use a NMFS-approved electronic monitoring system on 
100 percent of trips, as is currently required in the IFQ program. 
Participating vessels would also be required to retain all salmon 
(excluding salmon already sampled by NMFS' West Coast Groundfish 
Observer Program) until offloading.
    A goal of this EFP project is to collect information on the effects 
of lifting the restrictions described above on bycatch, including 
bycatch of Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed salmon, eulachon, and 
green sturgeon. Previous analyses suggest that bycatch rates of these 
ESA-listed species could increase as a result of the changes in gear 
configurations from the Trawl Gear EFP. However, because a targeted 
fishery for chilipepper, widow, and yellowtail rockfish has not existed 
in more than a decade, and because the current groundfish trawl fishery 
has changed considerably in recent years, available data may have 
limited utility for predicting current impacts to protected and 
prohibited species in fisheries conducted with the exemptions that 
would be allowed under this EFP application being considered. NMFS 
staff worked with the applicants to inform their development of this 
EFP application, advising on what might increase the ability of fishery 
participants to target pelagic rockfish species while also minimizing 
bycatch to the extent practicable and ensuring adequate bycatch 
information can be collected. To address potential increased protected 
and prohibited species encounters, the Council recommended that EFP 
applicants adhere to area-based Chinook salmon bycatch limits for 
midwater trawl and bottom trawl EFP vessels in 2021 and 2022. Under 
this proposal, if Chinook salmon catch on EFP trips for either gear 
type reaches the applicable bycatch limit, NMFS would revoke the EFP 
for that gear type for the remainder of the year. If this EFP is 
approved, NMFS would set a bycatch limit of 1,000 Chinook salmon north 
of 42[deg] N lat. and 100 Chinook salmon south of 42[deg] N lat. for 
vessels declared into the EFP, regardless of gear type. If either of 
these bycatch limits are reached, NMFS would revoke the EFP for both 
gear types in the respective management area (i.e., north or south of 
42[deg] N lat.).
    The application includes a requirement to retain and land salmon 
bycatch on all EFP trips, consistent with current requirements for 
vessels participating in the shoreside Pacific whiting fishery. The 
intent of this provision is to provide a complete census of salmon 
bycatch for each EFP trip and maximize the amount of biological and 
genetic salmon samples. In the event that more salmon are landed than 
what the onboard observer can sample, the vessel would notify their 
respective state fish and wildlife agency upon returning to port to 
give them the opportunity to collect and sample the excess salmon 
bycatch.
    The EFP applicants have not proposed a specific list of 
participating vessels, but consistent with previous years, are 
proposing that NMFS publish a public notice to gauge interest from 
limited entry groundfish midwater and bottom trawl vessels. Depending 
on the amount of interest and where vessels may be fishing, NMFS may 
need to limit participation by time and area to mitigate potential 
impacts.
    Information collected under the EFP would be used to support 
analysis for potential new gear regulations and modifications to 
existing gear regulations. Because many of the current gear regulations 
have been in place for more than ten years, it is difficult for NMFS, 
the Council, and industry to predict the impacts of removing these 
regulations. In the past 10 years, the industry has changed 
significantly. Reduction in capacity, innovations in gear technologies, 
and changes in management have all contributed to these changes. The 
information collected through the fishing under this EFP would help 
demonstrate what potential impacts, if any, today's fleet may have if 
some of the current gear, area, and time regulations are modified from 
what is currently in regulation. NMFS has already used data from the 
prior years of the EFP project to modify regulations that were no 
longer necessary due to changes in the groundfish fishery and the 
improved status of several overfished groundfish stocks. For

[[Page 56571]]

example, data from the 2017 and 2018 EFPs helped modify regulations 
that restricted the use and configuration of trawl gear via a December 
3, 2018 final rule (See 83 FR 62269).
    NMFS is proposing to approve the 2021 Trawl Gear EFP, and 
preliminarily approve the 2022 Trawl Gear EFP, covering all the 
exemptions stated above, following the conclusion of the public comment 
period and review of public comment. NMFS would not issue another 
Federal Register notice soliciting public comment on renewing the Trawl 
Gear EFP for 2022 unless: (1) The applicants modify and resubmit their 
application to NMFS; (2) changes to relevant trawl fisheries 
regulations warrant a revised set of exemptions authorized under the 
EFP project; or (3) NMFS' understanding of the current biological and 
economic impacts from EFP fishing activities substantially changes. 
Pending approval, NMFS would issue the permits for the EFP project to 
the vessel owner or designated representative as the ``EFP holder.'' 
NMFS intends to use an adaptive management approach in which NMFS may 
revise requirements and protocols to improve the program without 
issuing another Federal Register notice, provided that the 
modifications fall within the scope of the original EFP. In addition, 
the applicants may request minor modifications and extensions to the 
EFP throughout the course of research. NMFS may grant EFP modifications 
and extensions without further public notice if the changes are 
essential to facilitate completing the proposed research and result in 
only a minimal change in the scope or impacts of the initially approved 
EFP request.
    NMFS analyzed the potential effects of implementing the 2018 Trawl 
Gear EFP in an environmental assessment (EA), dated December 2017 
(Available at: http://www.westcoast.fisheries. noaa.gov). In that EA, 
NMFS stated that it anticipated issuing additional, similar, one-year 
EFPs that would cover a portion or all of the components discussed in 
the EA. Those EFPs would be supported by the analyses in the EA, as 
long as there were not substantial changes to the affected environment 
(e.g., status of the stock), components of the EFP (i.e., gear, area, 
and time restrictions), or unanticipated effects on the environment 
from permitting fishing activities that were not discussed in the EA's 
analysis. Since the 2021 and 2022 Trawl Gear EFPs meet those criteria, 
NMFS does not anticipate any environmental impacts from the 2021-2022 
Trawl Gear EFP beyond those analyzed in the EA for the 2018 Trawl Gear 
and future similar EFPs. NMFS welcomes public comment on the NEPA 
coverage for this EFP.
    After publication of this document in the Federal Register, NMFS 
may approve and issue permits for the EFP project after the close of 
the public comment period. NMFS will consider comments submitted in 
deciding whether to approve the application as requested. NMFS may 
approve the application in its entirety or may make any alterations 
needed to achieve the goals of the EFP.

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

    Dated: August 25, 2020.
Jennifer M. Wallace,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-19060 Filed 9-11-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P