Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Adjustments to 2020 Northern Albacore Tuna Quota, 2020 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas, and 2020 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Reserve Category Quota, 61872-61875 [2020-20399]

Download as PDF 61872 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 191 / Thursday, October 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Regulatory Secretariat at 202–501–4755. Please cite GSAR Case 2020–G521. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background As part of GSA’s regulatory reform efforts, GSA determined that GSAR 532.905–70 should no longer require contracting officers to obtain approval of legal counsel before processing final payments for construction and building service contracts where, after 60 days, the contracting officers are unable to obtain releases of claims from contractors. Legal review is not a statutory requirement, and the decision to process final payments in such cases is a business decision, rather than a legal one. II. Authority for This Rulemaking Title 40 of the United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 121 authorizes GSA to issue regulations, including the GSAR, to control the relationship between GSA and contractors. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES III. Discussion and Analysis Prior to the issuance of this rule, GSA guidance on final payments for construction and building service contracts provided that, ‘‘in cases where, after 60 days from the initial attempt, the contracting officer is unable to obtain a release of claims from the contractor, the final payment may be processed with the approval of assigned legal counsel.’’ GSA is proposing to amend GSAR 532.905–70(c) by removing the legal approval requirement because this is a business decision to be made by the contracting officer, not a legal decision. Therefore, upon implementation of this rule, a contracting officer may instead process a final payment in such a situation after documenting in the contract file: (i) That the contracting officer requested a release of claims from the contractor and did not receive a response within 60 calendar days; and (ii) approval to process the final payment from one level above the contracting officer. IV. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 Executive Orders (E.O.s) 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). E.O. 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. This is not a significant VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:58 Sep 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 regulatory action and, therefore, was not subject to review under section 6(b) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, dated September 30, 1993. This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804. (ii) Approval to process the final payment from one level above the contracting officer. [FR Doc. 2020–18597 Filed 9–30–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820–61–P V. Executive Order 13771 This final rule was not subject to E.O. 13771 because this rule is not a significant regulatory action under E.O. 12886. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 48 CFR Part 852 Solicitation Provisions and Contract Clauses VI. Regulatory Flexibility Act The Regulatory Flexibility Act does not apply to this rule because this final rule does not constitute a significant GSAR revision. VII. Paperwork Reduction Act CFR Correction In Title 48 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Chapters 7 to 14, revised as of October 1, 2019, on page 272, remove the second printing of section 852.232– 70, and on page 278, remove the second printing of section 852.236–72. ■ The final rule does not contain any information collection requirements that require the approval of the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. chapter 35). [FR Doc. 2020–21868 Filed 9–30–20; 8:45 am] List of Subjects in 48 CFR Part 532 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Government procurement. Jeffrey A. Koses, Senior Procurement Executive, Office of Acquisition Policy, Office of Governmentwide Policy, General Services Administration. Therefore, GSA amends 48 CFR part 532 as set forth below: PART 532—CONTRACT FINANCING 1. The authority citation for 48 CFR part 532 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 40 U.S.C. 121(c). 2. Amend section 532.905–70 by: a. Removing from paragraph (a) ‘‘amount due the Contractor’’ and adding ‘‘amount due to the contractor’’ in its place; ■ b. Revising paragraph (b); and ■ c. Removing paragraphs (c) and (d). The revision reads as follows: ■ ■ 532.905–70 Final payment—construction and building service contracts. * * * * * (b) A contracting officer may only process the final payment for a construction or building service contract once: (1) The contractor submits a properly executed GSA Form 1142, Release of Claims; or (2) The contracting officer documents in the contract file: (i) That the contracting officer requested a release of claims from the contractor and did not receive a response within 60 calendar days; and, PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 BILLING CODE 1301–00–D National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 200910–0237] RTID 0648–XT037 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Adjustments to 2020 Northern Albacore Tuna Quota, 2020 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas, and 2020 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Reserve Category Quota National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary final rule. AGENCY: NMFS adjusts the 2020 baseline quotas for U.S. North Atlantic albacore tuna (northern albacore), North and South Atlantic swordfish, and the Atlantic bluefin Reserve category based on available underharvest of the 2019 adjusted U.S. quotas. This action is necessary to implement binding recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and to achieve domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). DATES: Effective October 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\01OCR1.SGM 01OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 191 / Thursday, October 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Supporting documents, including Environmental Assessments, as well as the Fishery Management Plans and their amendments that are described below, may be downloaded from the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/atlantichighly-migratory-species. These documents also are available upon request from Sarah McLaughlin, Steve Durkee, Larry Redd, or Guy Eroh at the email addresses and telephone number below. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin, (sarah.mclaughlin@ noaa.gov), Steve Durkee, (steve.durkee@ noaa.gov), Larry Redd, (larry.redd@ noaa.gov), or Guy Eroh, (guy.eroh@ noaa.gov), at 301–427–8503. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority of the ATCA (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of northern albacore, swordfish, and Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27(e) implements the northern albacore annual quota recommended by ICCAT and describes the annual northern albacore quota adjustment process. Section 635.27(c) implements the ICCAT-recommended quotas and describes the quota adjustment process for both North and South Atlantic swordfish. Section 635.27(a) implements the ICCATrecommended quota and describes the annual quota adjustment process for BFT. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quotas. Note that weight information for northern albacore and BFT below is shown in metric tons (mt) whole weight (ww), and both dressed weight (dw) and ww are shown for swordfish. ADDRESSES: jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Northern Albacore Annual Quota and Adjustment Process Since 1998, ICCAT has adopted recommendations regarding the northern albacore fishery. ICCAT Recommendation 17–04 on northern albacore (which amends portions of Recommendation 16–06) includes a total allowable catch (TAC) at 33,600 mt for 2018 through 2020 and specific provisions regarding northern albacore conservation and management. The U.S. share of that TAC is a quota for 2019 and 2020 of 632.4 mt, annually, which is codified at § 635.27(e) and will remain in effect until changed. VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:58 Sep 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 Portions of ICCAT Recommendation 16–06 remain active. Relevant to the northern albacore quota adjustment in this action, and as codified at § 635.27(e)(2), the maximum underharvest that a Contracting Party may carry forward from one year to the next is 25 percent of its initial catch quota, which would be 158.1 mt for the United States. Adjustment of the 2020 Northern Albacore Quota Consistent with regulations at § 635.27(e), NMFS adjusts the U.S. annual northern albacore quota for allowable underharvest, if any, in the previous year. NMFS makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT limits when complete catch information for the prior year is available and finalized. Under ICCAT Recommendation 17–04, the maximum underharvest that a Contracting Party may carry forward from one year to the next is 25 percent of its initial catch quota, which, relevant to 2020, would be 158.1 mt for the United States (25 percent of 632.4 mt). For 2019, the adjusted quota was 790.5 mt (632.4 mt plus 158.1 mt of 2018 underharvest carried forward to 2019, based on 25 percent of the 632.4mt quota in place for 2018) (83 FR 51391, October 11, 2018). The total 2019 northern albacore catch, which includes landings and dead discards, was 221.36 mt, which is an underharvest of 569.14 mt of the 2019 adjusted quota. Of this underharvest, 158.1 mt may be carried forward to the 2020 fishing year. Thus, the adjusted 2020 northern albacore quota is 632.4 mt plus 158.1 mt, totaling 790.5 mt. North and South Atlantic Swordfish Annual Quota and Adjustment Process North Atlantic Swordfish Consistent with the North Atlantic swordfish quota regulations at § 635.27(c), NMFS adjusts the U.S. annual North Atlantic swordfish quota for allowable underharvest, if any, in the previous year. NMFS makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT limits and when complete catch information for the prior year is available and finalized. Under ICCAT Recommendation 17–02, the U.S. North Atlantic swordfish baseline annual quota for 2018 through 2021 is 2,937.6 mt dw (3,907 mt ww). The maximum underharvest that the United States may carry forward from one year to the next is 15 percent of the baseline quota, which equals 440.6 mt dw (586 mt ww) for the United States. In 2019, the adjusted North Atlantic swordfish quota PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 61873 was 3,378.2 mt dw (2,937.6 mt dw baseline quota + 440.6 mt dw carried over from 2018). The total 2019 U.S. North Atlantic swordfish catch, which includes landings and dead discards, was 1,471.95 mt dw, which is an underharvest of 1,906.25-mt dw of the 2019 adjusted quota. This underharvest exceeds the 440.6-mt dw underharvest carryover limit allowed under Recommendation 17–02. Thus NMFS is carrying forward 440.6 mt dw, the maximum carryover allowed. The 2,937.6 mt dw baseline quota is increased by the underharvest carryover of 440.6 mt dw, resulting in a final adjusted North Atlantic swordfish quota for the 2020 fishing year of 3,378.2 mt dw (2,937.6 + 440.6 = 3,378.2 mt dw). From that adjusted quota, 50 mt dw will be allocated to the reserve category for inseason adjustments and research, and 300 mt dw will be allocated to the incidental category, which includes recreational landings and landings by incidental swordfish permit holders, in accordance with regulations at § 635.27(c)(1)(i). This results in an allocation of 3,028.2 mt dw (3,378.2¥50¥300 = 3,028.2 mt dw) for the directed category, split equally between two seasons in 2020 (January through June, and July through December) (Table 1). South Atlantic Swordfish Consistent with the South Atlantic swordfish quota regulations at § 635.27(c), NMFS adjusts the U.S. annual South Atlantic swordfish quota for allowable underharvest, if any, in the previous year. NMFS makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT limits when complete catch information for the prior year is available and finalized. Under ICCAT Recommendation 17–03, the U.S. South Atlantic swordfish baseline annual quota for 2020 is 75.2 mt dw (100 mt ww) and the amount of underharvest that the United States can carry forward from one year to the next is 100 percent of the baseline quota (75.2 mt dw). Recommendation 17–03 continues to require the United States to transfer a total of 75.2 mt dw (100 mt ww) to other countries. These transfers are 37.6 mt dw (50 mt ww) to Namibia, 18.8 mt dw (25 mt ww) to Coˆte d’Ivoire, and 18.8 mt dw (25 mt ww) to Belize. U.S. fishermen landed no South Atlantic swordfish in 2019. The adjusted 2019 South Atlantic swordfish quota was 75.1 mt dw due to nominal landings in previous years. Therefore, 75.1 mt dw of underharvest is available to carry over to 2020. NMFS is carrying forward 75.1 mt dw to be added to the E:\FR\FM\01OCR1.SGM 01OCR1 61874 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 191 / Thursday, October 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations 75.2 mt dw baseline quota. The quota is then reduced by the 75.2 mt dw of annual international quota transfers outlined above, resulting in an adjusted South Atlantic swordfish quota of 75.1 mt dw for the 2020 fishing year (Table 1). TABLE 1—2020 NORTH AND SOUTH ATLANTIC SWORDFISH QUOTAS 2019 2020 North Atlantic Swordfish Quota (mt dw) Baseline Quota ........................................................................................................................................................ International Quota Transfer .................................................................................................................................... Total Underharvest from Previous Year .................................................................................................................. Underharvest Carryover from Previous Year † ....................................................................................................... Adjusted Quota ........................................................................................................................................................ Quota Allocation Directed Category ............................................................................................................................................. Incidental Category ........................................................................................................................................... Reserve Category ............................................................................................................................................. 2,937.6 0 1,979 (+) 440.6 3,378.2 2,937.6 0 1,906.25 (+) 440.6 3,378.2 3,028.2 300 50 3,028.2 300 50 75.2 (¥)75.2 75.1 75.1 75.1 75.2 (¥)75.2 75.1 75.1 75.1 South Atlantic Swordfish Quota (mt dw) Baseline Quota ........................................................................................................................................................ International Quota Transfers * ................................................................................................................................ Total Underharvest from Previous Year .................................................................................................................. Underharvest Carryover from Previous Year † ....................................................................................................... Adjusted quota ......................................................................................................................................................... jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES † Allowable underharvest carryover is capped at 15 percent of the baseline quota allocation for the North Atlantic and 75.2 dw (100 mt ww) for the South Atlantic. * Under ICCAT Recommendation 17–03, the United States transfers 75.2 mt dw (100 mt ww) annually to Namibia (37.6 mt dw, 50 mt ww), Coˆte d’Ivoire (18.8 mt dw, 25 mt ww), and Belize (18.8 mt dw, 25 mt ww). BFT Annual Quota and Adjustment Process Consistent with the regulations regarding annual BFT quota adjustment at § 635.27(a), NMFS annually announces the addition of available underharvest, if any, to the BFT Reserve category once complete catch information is available and finalized. NMFS implemented relevant provisions of the current ICCAT western Atlantic BFT recommendation (Recommendation 17–06) in a final rule that published in October 2018 (83 FR 51391, October 11, 2018). That rulemaking implemented the recommended annual U.S. baseline quota of 1,247.86 mt, plus an additional 25 mt to account for bycatch related to pelagic longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area (NED), for a total of 1,272.86 mt. The total annual U.S. BFT quota of 1,272.86 mt is codified at § 635.27(a) and will remain in effect until changed (for instance, if a new ICCAT western Atlantic BFT TAC recommendation is adopted). The maximum underharvest that a Contracting Party may carry forward from one year to the next is 10 percent of its initial catch quota, which, for the United States, is 127.3 mt for 2020 (10 percent of 1,272.86 mt). Adjustment of the 2020 BFT Reserve Category Quota The United States is carrying forward the full, allowable 127.3 mt for 2020. In VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:58 Sep 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 2019, the adjusted BFT quota was 1,400.16 mt (baseline quota of 1,272.86 mt + 127.3 mt of 2018 underharvest carried over to 2019). The total 2019 BFT catch, including landings and dead discards, was 1,185.11 mt, which is an underharvest of 215.05 mt from the 2019 adjusted quota and exceeds the allowable carryover of 127.3 mt. When carrying over underharvest from one year to the next, NMFS uses the underharvest to augment the BFT Reserve category quota. Thus, for 2020, NMFS augments the Reserve category quota with the allowable carryover of 127.3 mt. The codified Reserve category quota is 29.5 mt. Effective February 5, 2020, NMFS adjusted the Reserve category quota for 2020 to 143 mt by reallocating 164.5 mt of Purse Seine quota to the Reserve category (based on 2019 catch by Purse Seine category participants) and also transferring 51 mt of Reserve category quota to the General category (85 FR 6828, February 6, 2020). Effective July 13, 2020, NMFS transferred 30 mt from the Reserve category quota to the Harpoon category (85 FR 43148, July 16, 2020), leaving a total of 113 mt in the Reserve category. Thus, as of the effective date of this action (October 1, 2020) the adjusted 2020 Reserve category quota is 240.3 mt (113 mt + 127.3 mt). PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Classification This action is being taken under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, section 304(g), and ATCA, section 971d(c)(1)(A). The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) has determined that this temporary final rule is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP and its amendments, ATCA, and other applicable law. Pursuant to section 553(b)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B)), the AA finds that it is unnecessary and would be contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the reasons described below. The rulemaking processes for Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP in 2015 (79 FR 71509, December 2, 2014) and for the 2016 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quota Adjustment Rule (81 FR 48719, July 26, 2016) specifically provided prior notice of, and accepted public comment on, the formulaic quota adjustment processes for the northern albacore, Atlantic bluefin tuna, and swordfish fisheries and the manner in which they occur. These processes have not changed, and the application of these formulas in this action does not have discretionary aspects requiring additional agency consideration. Thus, it would be unnecessarily duplicative to E:\FR\FM\01OCR1.SGM 01OCR1 61875 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 191 / Thursday, October 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations accept public comment for this action. There are no new quotas for 2020, and the quota formulas are the same as in previous years. NMFS therefore is issuing this temporary final rule to adjust the northern albacore, North and South Atlantic swordfish, and western Atlantic BFT quotas for 2020 without prior notice and an additional opportunity for comment. There is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effective date and to make the rule effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The fisheries for northern albacore, North and South Atlantic swordfish, and BFT began on January 1, 2020. NMFS monitors northern albacore, North and South Atlantic swordfish, and BFT annual catch and measures the annual catch data against the applicable available quotas. Delaying the effective date of these quota adjustments would affect reasonable opportunity to catch the available quotas. It could also cause complications for management under certain circumstances. For example, under the northern albacore fishery closure regulations, NMFS must close the fishery when the annual fishery quota is reached. Closure of the fishery based only on the baseline (codified) quota versus the adjusted northern albacore quota could preclude the fishery from harvesting northern albacore that are legally available consistent with the ICCAT recommendations and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended. Adjusting the North and South Atlantic swordfish quota allows the United States to take advantage of the ICCAT allowance to carry over quota underharvest and to comply with the South Atlantic swordfish recommendation’s obligation to transfer quota internationally. Adjusting the BFT Reserve category as soon as possible provides NMFS the flexibility to transfer quota from the Reserve to other fishing categories inseason after considering the regulatory determination criteria, including fishery conditions at the time of the transfer. This action is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. This action does not contain a collection-of-information requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. Because prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not required for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., are inapplicable. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: September 11, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–20399 Filed 9–30–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 200221–0062; RTID 0648– XA530] Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Exchange of Flatfish in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; reallocation. AGENCY: NMFS is exchanging allocations of Amendment 80 cooperative quota (CQ) for Amendment 80 acceptable biological catch (ABC) reserves. This action is necessary to allow the 2020 total allowable catch (TAC) of flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI) to be harvested. DATES: Effective September 28, 2020, through December 31, 2020. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907–586–7228. NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the BSAI according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. The 2020 flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole Amendment 80 allocations of the TAC specified in the BSAI are 14,414 metric tons (mt), 36,060 mt, and 113,403 mt, respectively, as established by the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (85 FR 13553, March 9, 2020). The 2020 flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole Amendment 80 ABC reserves are 43,430 mt, 94,837 mt, and 98,425 mt, respectively, as established by the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (85 FR 13553, March 9, 2020). The Alaska Seafood Cooperative has requested that NMFS exchange 1,530 mt of flathead sole Amendment 80 allocation of the TAC for 30 mt of rock sole and 1,500 mt of yellowfin sole Amendment 80 ABC reserves under § 679.91(i). Therefore, in accordance with § 679.91(i), NMFS exchanges 1,530 mt of flathead sole Amendment 80 allocation of the TAC for 30 mt of rock sole and 1,500 mt of yellowfin sole Amendment 80 ABC reserves in the BSAI. This action also decreases and increases the TACs and Amendment 80 ABC reserves by the corresponding amounts. Tables 11 and 13 of the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (85 FR 13553, March 9, 2020) and as revised (85 FR 59204, September 21, 2020) are further revised as follows: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: TABLE 11—FINAL 2020 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Pacific ocean perch Sector Eastern Aleutian District TAC .......................................................... CDQ ......................................................... ICA ........................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:58 Sep 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 10,613 1,136 100 PO 00000 Frm 00071 Central Aleutian District Western Aleutian District 8,094 866 60 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 10,000 1,070 10 Flathead sole Rock sole Yellowfin sole BSAI BSAI BSAI 17,845 1,962 3,000 E:\FR\FM\01OCR1.SGM 01OCR1 47,005 4,915 6,000 152,500 16,425 4,000

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 191 (Thursday, October 1, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 61872-61875]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-20399]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 200910-0237]
RTID 0648-XT037


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Adjustments to 2020 Northern 
Albacore Tuna Quota, 2020 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas, 
and 2020 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Reserve Category Quota

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

ACTION: Temporary final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS adjusts the 2020 baseline quotas for U.S. North Atlantic 
albacore tuna (northern albacore), North and South Atlantic swordfish, 
and the Atlantic bluefin Reserve category based on available 
underharvest of the 2019 adjusted U.S. quotas. This action is necessary 
to implement binding recommendations of the International Commission 
for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by the 
Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and to achieve domestic 
management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES: Effective October 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

[[Page 61873]]


ADDRESSES: Supporting documents, including Environmental Assessments, 
as well as the Fishery Management Plans and their amendments that are 
described below, may be downloaded from the Highly Migratory Species 
(HMS) website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/atlantic-highly-migratory-species. These documents also are available upon request from 
Sarah McLaughlin, Steve Durkee, Larry Redd, or Guy Eroh at the email 
addresses and telephone number below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin, 
([email protected]), Steve Durkee, ([email protected]), 
Larry Redd, ([email protected]), or Guy Eroh, ([email protected]), at 
301-427-8503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority 
of the ATCA (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 
U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of northern albacore, 
swordfish, and Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) by persons and vessels 
subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 
635.27(e) implements the northern albacore annual quota recommended by 
ICCAT and describes the annual northern albacore quota adjustment 
process. Section 635.27(c) implements the ICCAT-recommended quotas and 
describes the quota adjustment process for both North and South 
Atlantic swordfish. Section 635.27(a) implements the ICCAT-recommended 
quota and describes the annual quota adjustment process for BFT. NMFS 
is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. 
fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-
recommended quotas.
    Note that weight information for northern albacore and BFT below is 
shown in metric tons (mt) whole weight (ww), and both dressed weight 
(dw) and ww are shown for swordfish.

Northern Albacore Annual Quota and Adjustment Process

    Since 1998, ICCAT has adopted recommendations regarding the 
northern albacore fishery. ICCAT Recommendation 17-04 on northern 
albacore (which amends portions of Recommendation 16-06) includes a 
total allowable catch (TAC) at 33,600 mt for 2018 through 2020 and 
specific provisions regarding northern albacore conservation and 
management. The U.S. share of that TAC is a quota for 2019 and 2020 of 
632.4 mt, annually, which is codified at Sec.  635.27(e) and will 
remain in effect until changed.
    Portions of ICCAT Recommendation 16-06 remain active. Relevant to 
the northern albacore quota adjustment in this action, and as codified 
at Sec.  635.27(e)(2), the maximum underharvest that a Contracting 
Party may carry forward from one year to the next is 25 percent of its 
initial catch quota, which would be 158.1 mt for the United States.

Adjustment of the 2020 Northern Albacore Quota

    Consistent with regulations at Sec.  635.27(e), NMFS adjusts the 
U.S. annual northern albacore quota for allowable underharvest, if any, 
in the previous year. NMFS makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT 
limits when complete catch information for the prior year is available 
and finalized. Under ICCAT Recommendation 17-04, the maximum 
underharvest that a Contracting Party may carry forward from one year 
to the next is 25 percent of its initial catch quota, which, relevant 
to 2020, would be 158.1 mt for the United States (25 percent of 632.4 
mt).
    For 2019, the adjusted quota was 790.5 mt (632.4 mt plus 158.1 mt 
of 2018 underharvest carried forward to 2019, based on 25 percent of 
the 632.4-mt quota in place for 2018) (83 FR 51391, October 11, 2018). 
The total 2019 northern albacore catch, which includes landings and 
dead discards, was 221.36 mt, which is an underharvest of 569.14 mt of 
the 2019 adjusted quota. Of this underharvest, 158.1 mt may be carried 
forward to the 2020 fishing year. Thus, the adjusted 2020 northern 
albacore quota is 632.4 mt plus 158.1 mt, totaling 790.5 mt.

North and South Atlantic Swordfish Annual Quota and Adjustment Process

North Atlantic Swordfish

    Consistent with the North Atlantic swordfish quota regulations at 
Sec.  635.27(c), NMFS adjusts the U.S. annual North Atlantic swordfish 
quota for allowable underharvest, if any, in the previous year. NMFS 
makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT limits and when complete 
catch information for the prior year is available and finalized. Under 
ICCAT Recommendation 17-02, the U.S. North Atlantic swordfish baseline 
annual quota for 2018 through 2021 is 2,937.6 mt dw (3,907 mt ww). The 
maximum underharvest that the United States may carry forward from one 
year to the next is 15 percent of the baseline quota, which equals 
440.6 mt dw (586 mt ww) for the United States. In 2019, the adjusted 
North Atlantic swordfish quota was 3,378.2 mt dw (2,937.6 mt dw 
baseline quota + 440.6 mt dw carried over from 2018).
    The total 2019 U.S. North Atlantic swordfish catch, which includes 
landings and dead discards, was 1,471.95 mt dw, which is an 
underharvest of 1,906.25-mt dw of the 2019 adjusted quota. This 
underharvest exceeds the 440.6-mt dw underharvest carryover limit 
allowed under Recommendation 17-02. Thus NMFS is carrying forward 440.6 
mt dw, the maximum carryover allowed. The 2,937.6 mt dw baseline quota 
is increased by the underharvest carryover of 440.6 mt dw, resulting in 
a final adjusted North Atlantic swordfish quota for the 2020 fishing 
year of 3,378.2 mt dw (2,937.6 + 440.6 = 3,378.2 mt dw). From that 
adjusted quota, 50 mt dw will be allocated to the reserve category for 
inseason adjustments and research, and 300 mt dw will be allocated to 
the incidental category, which includes recreational landings and 
landings by incidental swordfish permit holders, in accordance with 
regulations at Sec.  635.27(c)(1)(i). This results in an allocation of 
3,028.2 mt dw (3,378.2-50-300 = 3,028.2 mt dw) for the directed 
category, split equally between two seasons in 2020 (January through 
June, and July through December) (Table 1).

South Atlantic Swordfish

    Consistent with the South Atlantic swordfish quota regulations at 
Sec.  635.27(c), NMFS adjusts the U.S. annual South Atlantic swordfish 
quota for allowable underharvest, if any, in the previous year. NMFS 
makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT limits when complete catch 
information for the prior year is available and finalized. Under ICCAT 
Recommendation 17-03, the U.S. South Atlantic swordfish baseline annual 
quota for 2020 is 75.2 mt dw (100 mt ww) and the amount of underharvest 
that the United States can carry forward from one year to the next is 
100 percent of the baseline quota (75.2 mt dw). Recommendation 17-03 
continues to require the United States to transfer a total of 75.2 mt 
dw (100 mt ww) to other countries. These transfers are 37.6 mt dw (50 
mt ww) to Namibia, 18.8 mt dw (25 mt ww) to C[ocirc]te d'Ivoire, and 
18.8 mt dw (25 mt ww) to Belize.
    U.S. fishermen landed no South Atlantic swordfish in 2019. The 
adjusted 2019 South Atlantic swordfish quota was 75.1 mt dw due to 
nominal landings in previous years. Therefore, 75.1 mt dw of 
underharvest is available to carry over to 2020. NMFS is carrying 
forward 75.1 mt dw to be added to the

[[Page 61874]]

75.2 mt dw baseline quota. The quota is then reduced by the 75.2 mt dw 
of annual international quota transfers outlined above, resulting in an 
adjusted South Atlantic swordfish quota of 75.1 mt dw for the 2020 
fishing year (Table 1).

         Table 1--2020 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               2019            2020
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 North Atlantic Swordfish Quota (mt dw)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baseline Quota..........................         2,937.6         2,937.6
International Quota Transfer............               0               0
Total Underharvest from Previous Year...           1,979        1,906.25
Underharvest Carryover from Previous           (+) 440.6       (+) 440.6
 Year [dagger]..........................
Adjusted Quota..........................         3,378.2         3,378.2
Quota Allocation
    Directed Category...................         3,028.2         3,028.2
    Incidental Category.................             300             300
    Reserve Category....................              50              50
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 South Atlantic Swordfish Quota (mt dw)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baseline Quota..........................            75.2            75.2
International Quota Transfers *.........         (-)75.2         (-)75.2
Total Underharvest from Previous Year...            75.1            75.1
Underharvest Carryover from Previous                75.1            75.1
 Year [dagger]..........................
Adjusted quota..........................            75.1            75.1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
[dagger] Allowable underharvest carryover is capped at 15 percent of the
  baseline quota allocation for the North Atlantic and 75.2 dw (100 mt
  ww) for the South Atlantic.
* Under ICCAT Recommendation 17-03, the United States transfers 75.2 mt
  dw (100 mt ww) annually to Namibia (37.6 mt dw, 50 mt ww), C[ocirc]te
  d'Ivoire (18.8 mt dw, 25 mt ww), and Belize (18.8 mt dw, 25 mt ww).

BFT Annual Quota and Adjustment Process

    Consistent with the regulations regarding annual BFT quota 
adjustment at Sec.  635.27(a), NMFS annually announces the addition of 
available underharvest, if any, to the BFT Reserve category once 
complete catch information is available and finalized.
    NMFS implemented relevant provisions of the current ICCAT western 
Atlantic BFT recommendation (Recommendation 17-06) in a final rule that 
published in October 2018 (83 FR 51391, October 11, 2018). That 
rulemaking implemented the recommended annual U.S. baseline quota of 
1,247.86 mt, plus an additional 25 mt to account for bycatch related to 
pelagic longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant gear restricted 
area (NED), for a total of 1,272.86 mt. The total annual U.S. BFT quota 
of 1,272.86 mt is codified at Sec.  635.27(a) and will remain in effect 
until changed (for instance, if a new ICCAT western Atlantic BFT TAC 
recommendation is adopted). The maximum underharvest that a Contracting 
Party may carry forward from one year to the next is 10 percent of its 
initial catch quota, which, for the United States, is 127.3 mt for 2020 
(10 percent of 1,272.86 mt).

Adjustment of the 2020 BFT Reserve Category Quota

    The United States is carrying forward the full, allowable 127.3 mt 
for 2020. In 2019, the adjusted BFT quota was 1,400.16 mt (baseline 
quota of 1,272.86 mt + 127.3 mt of 2018 underharvest carried over to 
2019). The total 2019 BFT catch, including landings and dead discards, 
was 1,185.11 mt, which is an underharvest of 215.05 mt from the 2019 
adjusted quota and exceeds the allowable carryover of 127.3 mt. When 
carrying over underharvest from one year to the next, NMFS uses the 
underharvest to augment the BFT Reserve category quota. Thus, for 2020, 
NMFS augments the Reserve category quota with the allowable carryover 
of 127.3 mt.
    The codified Reserve category quota is 29.5 mt. Effective February 
5, 2020, NMFS adjusted the Reserve category quota for 2020 to 143 mt by 
reallocating 164.5 mt of Purse Seine quota to the Reserve category 
(based on 2019 catch by Purse Seine category participants) and also 
transferring 51 mt of Reserve category quota to the General category 
(85 FR 6828, February 6, 2020). Effective July 13, 2020, NMFS 
transferred 30 mt from the Reserve category quota to the Harpoon 
category (85 FR 43148, July 16, 2020), leaving a total of 113 mt in the 
Reserve category. Thus, as of the effective date of this action 
(October 1, 2020) the adjusted 2020 Reserve category quota is 240.3 mt 
(113 mt + 127.3 mt).

Classification

    This action is being taken under the authority of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, section 304(g), and ATCA, section 971d(c)(1)(A).
    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) has determined that this 
temporary final rule is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP and its amendments, ATCA, and other 
applicable law.
    Pursuant to section 553(b)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act 
(5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B)), the AA finds that it is unnecessary and would be 
contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an 
opportunity for public comment on, this action for the reasons 
described below.
    The rulemaking processes for Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated 
HMS FMP in 2015 (79 FR 71509, December 2, 2014) and for the 2016 North 
and South Atlantic Swordfish Quota Adjustment Rule (81 FR 48719, July 
26, 2016) specifically provided prior notice of, and accepted public 
comment on, the formulaic quota adjustment processes for the northern 
albacore, Atlantic bluefin tuna, and swordfish fisheries and the manner 
in which they occur. These processes have not changed, and the 
application of these formulas in this action does not have 
discretionary aspects requiring additional agency consideration. Thus, 
it would be unnecessarily duplicative to

[[Page 61875]]

accept public comment for this action. There are no new quotas for 
2020, and the quota formulas are the same as in previous years. NMFS 
therefore is issuing this temporary final rule to adjust the northern 
albacore, North and South Atlantic swordfish, and western Atlantic BFT 
quotas for 2020 without prior notice and an additional opportunity for 
comment.
    There is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day 
delay in effective date and to make the rule effective upon publication 
in the Federal Register. The fisheries for northern albacore, North and 
South Atlantic swordfish, and BFT began on January 1, 2020. NMFS 
monitors northern albacore, North and South Atlantic swordfish, and BFT 
annual catch and measures the annual catch data against the applicable 
available quotas. Delaying the effective date of these quota 
adjustments would affect reasonable opportunity to catch the available 
quotas. It could also cause complications for management under certain 
circumstances. For example, under the northern albacore fishery closure 
regulations, NMFS must close the fishery when the annual fishery quota 
is reached. Closure of the fishery based only on the baseline 
(codified) quota versus the adjusted northern albacore quota could 
preclude the fishery from harvesting northern albacore that are legally 
available consistent with the ICCAT recommendations and the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended. Adjusting the North and South 
Atlantic swordfish quota allows the United States to take advantage of 
the ICCAT allowance to carry over quota underharvest and to comply with 
the South Atlantic swordfish recommendation's obligation to transfer 
quota internationally. Adjusting the BFT Reserve category as soon as 
possible provides NMFS the flexibility to transfer quota from the 
Reserve to other fishing categories inseason after considering the 
regulatory determination criteria, including fishery conditions at the 
time of the transfer.
    This action is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
    This action does not contain a collection-of-information 
requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act.
    Because prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not 
required for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the 
analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 
et seq., are inapplicable.

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq.

    Dated: September 11, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-20399 Filed 9-30-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P