Fisheries Off West Coast States; Emergency Action To Temporarily Extend the Primary Sablefish Fishery Season, 68001-68004 [2020-23700]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations S–18–5, Chemical A) is subject to reporting under this section for the significant new uses described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section. (2) * * * (i) Industrial, commercial, and consumer activities. Requirements as specified in § 721.80(f). It is a significant new use to use the substance other than as a monomer for acryl-based ultraviolet (UV)-curing coatings, inks, and adhesives or the confidential use described in the significant new use notice S–18–5. * * * * * ■ 4. Amend § 721.10372 by revising paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2)(i) to read as follows: § 721.10372 Butanoic acid, 3-mercapto,1,1′-[2,2-bis[(substituted-1oxoalkoxy)methyl]-1,3-propanediyl] ester (generic). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES (a) * * * (1) The chemical substance identified generically as butanoic acid, 3mercapto-,1,1′-[2,2-bis[(substituted-1oxoalkoxy)methyl]-1,3-propanediyl] ester (PMN P–10–136 and SNUN S–18– 5, Chemical B) is subject to reporting under this section for the significant new uses described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section. (2) * * * (i) Industrial, commercial, and consumer activities. Requirements as specified in § 721.80(f). It is a significant new use to use the substance other than as a monomer for acryl-based ultraviolet (UV)-curing coatings, inks, and adhesives, or the confidential use described in the SNUN S–18–5. * * * * * ■ 5. Amend § 721.10663 by revising paragraphs (a)(1), (a)(2)(i) and (ii), and (b)(1) to read as follows: (i) Protection in the workplace. Requirements as specified in § 721.63(a)(1) and (3) through (6), (b), and (c). When determining which persons are reasonably likely to be exposed as required for § 721.63(a)(1) and (4), engineering control measures (e.g., enclosure or confinement of the operation, general and local ventilation) or administrative control measures (e.g., workplace policies and procedures) shall be considered and implemented to prevent exposure, where feasible. For purposes of § 721.63(a)(5), respirators must provide a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) assigned protection factor of at least 50. For purposes of § 721.63(a)(6), the airborne form of the substance includes particulate. For purposes of § 721.63(b), concentration is set at 1.0%. (ii) Industrial, commercial, and consumer activities. Requirements as specified in § 721.80(v)(1), (w)(1), and (x)(1). It is a significant new use to use the substance other than as a chemical additive for use in epoxy compounds for transportation, marine and industrial coatings, paints and manufactured goods, for the confidential use described in PMN P–12–44, or for the confidential use described in SNUN S–19–5. (b) * * * (1) Recordkeeping. Recordkeeping requirements as specified in § 721.125(a) through (f), (i), and (k) are applicable to manufacturers, importers, and processors of this substance. * * * * * ■ 6. Amend § 721.10928 by revising paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2)(iii) to read as follows: § 721.10663 Functionalized multi-walled carbon nanotubes (generic). § 721.10928 Coke (coal), secondary pitch; a carbon-containing residue from the coking of air blown pitch coke oil and/or pitch distillate; composed primarily of isotropic carbon, it contains small amounts of sulfur and ash constituents. (a) * * * (1) The chemical substance identified generically as functionalized multiwalled carbon nanotubes (PMN P–12– 44; SNUN S–18–4; and SNUN S–19–5) is subject to reporting under this section for the significant new uses described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section. The requirements of this section do not apply to quantities of the PMN substance that have been completely reacted (cured); incorporated or embedded into a polymer matrix that itself has been completely reacted (cured); embedded in a permanent solid polymer form that is not intended to undergo further processing except for mechanical process; or incorporated into an article. (2) * * * (a) * * * (1) The chemical substance identified as coke (coal), secondary pitch. Definition: A carbon-containing residue from the coking of air blown pitch coke oil and/or pitch distillate; composed primarily of isotropic carbon, it contains small amounts of sulfur and ash constituents (PMN P–12–292, PMN P– 17–217, and SNUN S–19–4; CAS No. 94113–91–4) is subject to reporting under this section for the significant new uses described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section. (2) * * * (iii) Industrial, commercial, and consumer activities. Requirements as specified in § 721.80(f), (p), and (y)(1) and (2). It is a significant new use to use the substance other than for the VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:51 Oct 26, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 68001 confidential use permitted by the Order for P–12–292, as a lubricating agent used in the production of automotive disc brakes, or to process as an additive for the manufacture of diesel particulate filters to increase the porosity of the filter. It is a significant new use to use the substance in an additive formulation to produce diesel particulate filters within the United States. For purposes of § 721.80, the aggregate volume is 2,500,000 kilograms. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–21464 Filed 10–26–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 201021–0276] RIN 0648–BK15 Fisheries Off West Coast States; Emergency Action To Temporarily Extend the Primary Sablefish Fishery Season National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; emergency action; request for comments. AGENCY: This emergency rule temporarily extends the 2020 sablefish primary fishery from October 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020. This action is necessary to provide operational flexibility so that vessels in the sablefish primary fishery are able to fully harvest their tier limits despite high economic uncertainty in 2020. This action would also extend the incidental halibut retention allowance provision for the sablefish primary fishery from October 31, 2020 to November 15, 2020 and set the halibut retention limit during this time period at 250 pounds (113 kilograms) dressed weight of Pacific halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional Pacific halibut in excess of the 250-pounds-per1,000-pound limit per landing. DATES: Effective October 27, 2020 until December 31, 2020. Comments must be submitted by November 27, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2020–0133 by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\27OCR1.SGM 27OCR1 68002 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20200133, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Barry Thom, c/o Colin Sayre, Sustainable Fisheries Division, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115–0070. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Electronic Access This emergency rule and supporting documents, including a Supplemental Information Report prepared for this action, are accessible via the internet at the Office of the Federal Register website at https:// www.federalregister.gov. Background information and documents are also available at the NMFS West Coast Region website at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/westcoast-groundfish and at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s website at https://www.pcouncil.org/managed_ fishery/groundfish/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Keeley Kent, phone: 206–247–8252, or email: Keeley.kent@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The primary sablefish fishery tier program is a limited access privilege program set up under Amendment 14 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP); which was approved by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) in 2000 and was implemented by NMFS on August 2, 2001(66 FR 41152; August 7, 2001). Participants hold limited entry permits with a pot gear and/or longline gear endorsement and a sablefish endorsement. Under Amendment 14, as set out in § 660.231, the permit holder of a sablefish-endorsed permit receives a tier limit, which is an annual share of the sablefish catch allocation to the primary fishery. NMFS sets three different tier limits through the biennial harvest specifications and management VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:51 Oct 26, 2020 Jkt 253001 measures process (for the 2020 limits, see 83 FR 63970, December 12, 2018), and up to three permits may be stacked at one time on a vessel participating in the fishery. Stacked tier limits are combined to provide a cumulative catch limit for that vessel. After vessels have caught their full tier limits, they are allowed to move into other fisheries for sablefish, specifically the daily trip limit (DTL) fishery or the open access fishery, or fisheries for other species. Under Amendment 14, the sablefish primary season has historically been open from April 1 through October 31 of each year, though individual permit holders may only fish up to their tier limits so may be required to cease fishing prior to October 31. These season dates were put into regulation during the development and implementation of the fishery under Amendment 14. Prior to the implementation of Amendment 14, the sablefish fishery had operated as a ‘derby’ style fishery, with a season length lasting a few weeks to a few days. Under Amendment 14, the fishery began operating under a 7-month season. The 7-month season structure, as opposed to a year-long season, was intended to allow for timely catch accounting so that the sector allocation was not exceeded. Vessels in the primary fishery north of Point Chehalis, Washington are also allowed to retain incidentally caught Pacific halibut up to a specific limit specified at § 660.231(b)(3)(iv). Halibut are encountered regularly in the normal operation of the sablefish primary fishery due to the co-occurrence of halibut and sablefish in the same environments, and the design and function of fixed gear. This retention is allowed until the sablefish primary season ends and it contributes additional economic value to this sector. Additionally, many vessels in the primary sablefish fishery also participate in sablefish and Pacific halibut fisheries in Alaska. 2020 Fishery Outlook At the September 2020 Council meeting, industry participants requested an extension to the 2020 sablefish primary fishery. The Council’s Groundfish Management Team (GMT) provided analysis of the 2020 sablefish primary fishery participation and performance compared to prior years of the fishery. The GMT demonstrated in their analysis that from 2011 to 2019, annual attainment averaged over 90 percent of total sablefish tier allocations, with 65 percent harvested between April and mid-September. By contrast, the GMT showed the fishery in 2020 has PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 only attained 33 percent of its allocation as of mid-September. This underattainment is attributed to delays experienced in the Alaska fisheries, in which many vessels in the sablefish primary fishery also participate. These delays are due to local travel restrictions, postponed season start dates, and quarantine requirements, all related to the ongoing COVID–19 pandemic. The GMT estimated that if the primary sablefish fishery season closed on October 31, 2020, the fishery would only attain 46 percent of its allocation, which equates to about $2.86 million in lost ex-vessel revenue and additional economic benefits for coastal communities. The Council reviewed the information provided by the GMT and by fishery stakeholders and discussed options to provide relief to commercial fishermen in the primary sablefish fishery from economic losses as a result of the recent unforeseen events associated with COVID–19 that began in approximately March 2020. These unforeseen events have adversely affected commercial fishermen throughout the Council’s jurisdiction for an extended period of time. Commercial stakeholders informed the Council that the recent events have caused many individuals, businesses and communities to suffer significant economic hardships from lost or reduced income and fishing opportunities. These events have also caused serious management problems by making it more difficult to achieve optimum yield (OY) for sablefish. At its September 2020 meeting, after evaluating the information provided to it, the Council recommended that NMFS initiate an emergency action to extend the sablefish primary fishery season from October 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020, to allow participants more time to harvest their full tier limits. As part of the emergency action, the Council also recommended an extension of the incidental halibut retention allowance north of Point Chehalis, Washington to November 15, 2020, and setting the retention limit at 250 pounds (113 kg) dressed weight of Pacific halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional Pacific halibut in excess of the 250-pounds-per-1,000-pound limit per landing. The retention allowance ensures additional economic benefits and reduces regulatory discards of commercially valuable incidental halibut. Criteria and Justification for Emergency Action Section 305(c) of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and E:\FR\FM\27OCR1.SGM 27OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to implement temporary emergency regulations to address fishery emergencies. NMFS’ Policy Guidelines for the Use of Emergency Rules (62 FR 44421; August 21, 1997) list three criteria for determining whether an emergency exists. Specifically, NMFS’ policy guidelines limit emergency management actions to recent unforeseen events or recently discovered circumstances that present serious management problems in the fishery when the benefits of an emergency action outweigh the benefits of the normal rulemaking process. NMFS has evaluated all relief mechanisms and, given the limited time remaining in the primary fishery season, an emergency action to extend the season is the only mechanism sufficient to provide participants access to their quota. NMFS is issuing this emergency rule in compliance with the NMFS guidelines to prevent significant direct economic loss and preserve economic opportunities that otherwise might be foregone. This emergency action will help the fishery achieve, but not exceed, the allocation of sablefish to the primary sablefish fishery, and the sablefish annual catch limit. As such, in evaluating the anticipated effects of this emergency action, NMFS determined that the effects fall within those described in the Environmental Assessment for the 2019–2020 Groundfish Harvest Specifications and Management Measures; which is tiered from the Harvest Specifications and Management Measures for 2015–2016 and Biennial Periods Thereafter Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which discloses the longer-term framework and environmental impacts of the biennial specifications process. NMFS documented this decisionmaking process in a Supplemental Information Report (see ADDRESSES). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Emergency Measures Effective October 27, 2020, this action temporarily extends the 2020 sablefish primary season for vessels registered to limited entry fixed gear, sablefishendorsed permits North of 36° N lat., from October 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020. This action includes a small administrative change to allow an additional transfer of sablefish-endorsed limited entry permits so that these permits may be transferred up to two times within a calendar year. This change will allow fishery participants to appropriately take advantage of the extended season. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:51 Oct 26, 2020 Jkt 253001 This action also extends the incidental halibut retention allowance for the sablefish primary fishery North of Point Chehalis, Washington, to November 15, 2020, which is the latest date allowed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission. Under these emergency measures, the incidental retention allowance limit is set at 250 pounds (113 kg) of dressed halibut per 1,000 pounds (454 kg) of dressed sablefish and up to 2 additional Pacific halibut in excess of the 250-pounds-per1,000-pound limit per landing. After November 15, any incidental halibut would need to be discarded as a prohibited species. Classification The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this emergency rule is consistent with the PCGFMP, Section 305(c) and other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982, and other applicable law. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries finds good cause to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment because it would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. The Council did an emergency modification to their September 2020 meeting agenda to consider taking emergency action in response to requests from industry representatives, the Groundfish Advisory Subpanel, and the public. These entities raised concerns that many vessels would be unable to harvest their allocations before the primary season closed due to unforeseen issues resulting from restrictions associated with the COVID– 19 pandemic. The Council considered and ultimately recommended NMFS initiate this action on September 17th, with less than 6 weeks remaining before the closure of the sablefish primary season on October 31. Providing prior notice through proposed rulemaking and public comment period in the normal rulemaking process would be counter to public interest by delaying implementation of emergency measures intended to provide relief for a timesensitive management problem. Further delays to extend the season through emergency action would jeopardize the ability of sablefish primary fishery participants to land allocations, and avoid economic hardship. For the reasons outlined above, NMFS finds it impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior opportunity to comment on these emergency measures. Additionally, this rule is exempt from the 30-day delayed effectiveness PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 68003 provision of the APA under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) because it relieves a restriction that would place fishery participants at an economic disadvantage. Waiving the 30-day delayed effectiveness for this rule is necessary to allow participants in the sablefish primary fishery under emergency rules to continue fishing operations with minimal interruption beyond the status quo closure date of October 31. Not extending the sablefish primary fishery season past October 31 would present immediate serious economic impacts without contributing to the economic goals of the sablefish tier program. Because this rule alleviates a restriction, which if continued would otherwise have serious and unnecessary economic harm on tier fishery vessels, it is not subject to the 30-day delayed effectiveness provision of the APA. This action is being taken pursuant to the emergency provision of MSA and is exempt from OMB review. This rule is not significant. This emergency rule is exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and opportunity for public comment. This emergency rule contains no information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries. Dated: October 21, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows: PART 660—-FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. 2. In § 660.25, add paragraphs (b)(4)(vii)(B)(1) and (2) to read as follows: ■ § 660.25 Permits. * * * * * (b) * * * (4) * * * (vii) * * * (B) * * * (1) Under emergency measures effective October 27, 2020 until December 31, 2020, Sablefish-endorsed limited entry fixed gear permits E:\FR\FM\27OCR1.SGM 27OCR1 68004 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations (without MS/CV or C/P endorsements) may be registered for use with a different vessel up to twice per calendar year. (2) [Reserved] * * * * * ■ 3. In § 660.213, revise paragraph (d)(2) to read as follows: § 660.213 Fixed gear fishery— recordkeeping and reporting. * * * * * (d) * * * (2) For participants in the sablefish primary season, the cumulative limit period to which this requirement applies is April 1 through October 31 (unless otherwise provided for at § 660.231(b)(1)(i)) or, for an individual vessel owner, when the tier limit for the permit(s) registered to the vessel has been reached, whichever is earlier. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 660.231, revise paragraph (b)(1), add paragraphs (b)(3)(iv)(A), and (B) to read as follows: § 660.231 Limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES * * * (b) * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 * * 15:51 Oct 26, 2020 Jkt 253001 (1) Season dates. North of 36° N lat., the sablefish primary season for the limited entry, fixed gear, sablefishendorsed vessels begins at 12 noon local time on April 1 and closes at 12 noon local time on October 31, or closes for an individual vessel owner when the tier limit for the sablefish endorsed permit(s) registered to the vessel has been reached, whichever is earlier, unless otherwise announced by the Regional Administrator through the routine management measures process described at § 660.60(c). (i) Under emergency measures effective October 27, 2020 until December 31, 2020, notwithstanding any other section of these regulations, North of 36° N lat., the sablefish primary season for the limited entry, fixed gear, sablefish-endorsed vessels closes at 12 noon local time on December 31, or closes for an individual vessel owner when the tier limit for the sablefish endorsed permit(s) registered to the vessel has been reached, whichever is earlier, unless otherwise announced by the Regional Administrator through the routine management measures process described at § 660.60(c). (ii) [Reserved] * * * * * PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 (3) * * * (iv) * * * (A) Under emergency measures effective October 27, 2020, until November 15, 2020, notwithstanding any other section of these regulations, vessels authorized to participate in the sablefish primary fishery, licensed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission for commercial fishing in Area 2A (waters off Washington, Oregon, California), and fishing with longline gear north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N lat.) may possess and land up to 250 pounds (113 kg) dressed weight of Pacific halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional Pacific halibut in excess of the 250pounds-per-1,000-pound limit per landing. Pacific halibut taken and retained in the sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. Chehalis may only be landed north of Pt. Chehalis and may not be possessed or landed south of Pt. Chehalis. (B) [Reserved] * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–23700 Filed 10–26–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\27OCR1.SGM 27OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 208 (Tuesday, October 27, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 68001-68004]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-23700]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 201021-0276]
RIN 0648-BK15


Fisheries Off West Coast States; Emergency Action To Temporarily 
Extend the Primary Sablefish Fishery Season

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; emergency action; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This emergency rule temporarily extends the 2020 sablefish 
primary fishery from October 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020. This action 
is necessary to provide operational flexibility so that vessels in the 
sablefish primary fishery are able to fully harvest their tier limits 
despite high economic uncertainty in 2020. This action would also 
extend the incidental halibut retention allowance provision for the 
sablefish primary fishery from October 31, 2020 to November 15, 2020 
and set the halibut retention limit during this time period at 250 
pounds (113 kilograms) dressed weight of Pacific halibut for every 
1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) dressed weight of sablefish landed and up 
to 2 additional Pacific halibut in excess of the 250-pounds-per-1,000-
pound limit per landing.

DATES: Effective October 27, 2020 until December 31, 2020. Comments 
must be submitted by November 27, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2020-0133 by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the

[[Page 68002]]

Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0133, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Barry Thom, c/o Colin Sayre, Sustainable Fisheries 
Division, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 
98115-0070.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).

Electronic Access

    This emergency rule and supporting documents, including a 
Supplemental Information Report prepared for this action, are 
accessible via the internet at the Office of the Federal Register 
website at https://www.federalregister.gov. Background information and 
documents are also available at the NMFS West Coast Region website at: 
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/west-coast-groundfish and at the 
Pacific Fishery Management Council's website at https://www.pcouncil.org/managed_fishery/groundfish/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Keeley Kent, phone: 206-247-8252, or 
email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The primary sablefish fishery tier program 
is a limited access privilege program set up under Amendment 14 to the 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP); which was 
approved by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) in 2000 
and was implemented by NMFS on August 2, 2001(66 FR 41152; August 7, 
2001). Participants hold limited entry permits with a pot gear and/or 
longline gear endorsement and a sablefish endorsement.
    Under Amendment 14, as set out in Sec.  660.231, the permit holder 
of a sablefish-endorsed permit receives a tier limit, which is an 
annual share of the sablefish catch allocation to the primary fishery. 
NMFS sets three different tier limits through the biennial harvest 
specifications and management measures process (for the 2020 limits, 
see 83 FR 63970, December 12, 2018), and up to three permits may be 
stacked at one time on a vessel participating in the fishery. Stacked 
tier limits are combined to provide a cumulative catch limit for that 
vessel. After vessels have caught their full tier limits, they are 
allowed to move into other fisheries for sablefish, specifically the 
daily trip limit (DTL) fishery or the open access fishery, or fisheries 
for other species.
    Under Amendment 14, the sablefish primary season has historically 
been open from April 1 through October 31 of each year, though 
individual permit holders may only fish up to their tier limits so may 
be required to cease fishing prior to October 31. These season dates 
were put into regulation during the development and implementation of 
the fishery under Amendment 14. Prior to the implementation of 
Amendment 14, the sablefish fishery had operated as a `derby' style 
fishery, with a season length lasting a few weeks to a few days. Under 
Amendment 14, the fishery began operating under a 7-month season. The 
7-month season structure, as opposed to a year-long season, was 
intended to allow for timely catch accounting so that the sector 
allocation was not exceeded.
    Vessels in the primary fishery north of Point Chehalis, Washington 
are also allowed to retain incidentally caught Pacific halibut up to a 
specific limit specified at Sec.  660.231(b)(3)(iv). Halibut are 
encountered regularly in the normal operation of the sablefish primary 
fishery due to the co-occurrence of halibut and sablefish in the same 
environments, and the design and function of fixed gear. This retention 
is allowed until the sablefish primary season ends and it contributes 
additional economic value to this sector. Additionally, many vessels in 
the primary sablefish fishery also participate in sablefish and Pacific 
halibut fisheries in Alaska.

2020 Fishery Outlook

    At the September 2020 Council meeting, industry participants 
requested an extension to the 2020 sablefish primary fishery. The 
Council's Groundfish Management Team (GMT) provided analysis of the 
2020 sablefish primary fishery participation and performance compared 
to prior years of the fishery. The GMT demonstrated in their analysis 
that from 2011 to 2019, annual attainment averaged over 90 percent of 
total sablefish tier allocations, with 65 percent harvested between 
April and mid-September. By contrast, the GMT showed the fishery in 
2020 has only attained 33 percent of its allocation as of mid-
September. This underattainment is attributed to delays experienced in 
the Alaska fisheries, in which many vessels in the sablefish primary 
fishery also participate. These delays are due to local travel 
restrictions, postponed season start dates, and quarantine 
requirements, all related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The GMT 
estimated that if the primary sablefish fishery season closed on 
October 31, 2020, the fishery would only attain 46 percent of its 
allocation, which equates to about $2.86 million in lost ex-vessel 
revenue and additional economic benefits for coastal communities.
    The Council reviewed the information provided by the GMT and by 
fishery stakeholders and discussed options to provide relief to 
commercial fishermen in the primary sablefish fishery from economic 
losses as a result of the recent unforeseen events associated with 
COVID-19 that began in approximately March 2020. These unforeseen 
events have adversely affected commercial fishermen throughout the 
Council's jurisdiction for an extended period of time. Commercial 
stakeholders informed the Council that the recent events have caused 
many individuals, businesses and communities to suffer significant 
economic hardships from lost or reduced income and fishing 
opportunities. These events have also caused serious management 
problems by making it more difficult to achieve optimum yield (OY) for 
sablefish.
    At its September 2020 meeting, after evaluating the information 
provided to it, the Council recommended that NMFS initiate an emergency 
action to extend the sablefish primary fishery season from October 31, 
2020 to December 31, 2020, to allow participants more time to harvest 
their full tier limits. As part of the emergency action, the Council 
also recommended an extension of the incidental halibut retention 
allowance north of Point Chehalis, Washington to November 15, 2020, and 
setting the retention limit at 250 pounds (113 kg) dressed weight of 
Pacific halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) dressed weight of 
sablefish landed and up to 2 additional Pacific halibut in excess of 
the 250-pounds-per-1,000-pound limit per landing. The retention 
allowance ensures additional economic benefits and reduces regulatory 
discards of commercially valuable incidental halibut.

Criteria and Justification for Emergency Action

    Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and

[[Page 68003]]

Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) authorizes the Secretary of 
Commerce to implement temporary emergency regulations to address 
fishery emergencies. NMFS' Policy Guidelines for the Use of Emergency 
Rules (62 FR 44421; August 21, 1997) list three criteria for 
determining whether an emergency exists. Specifically, NMFS' policy 
guidelines limit emergency management actions to recent unforeseen 
events or recently discovered circumstances that present serious 
management problems in the fishery when the benefits of an emergency 
action outweigh the benefits of the normal rulemaking process.
    NMFS has evaluated all relief mechanisms and, given the limited 
time remaining in the primary fishery season, an emergency action to 
extend the season is the only mechanism sufficient to provide 
participants access to their quota. NMFS is issuing this emergency rule 
in compliance with the NMFS guidelines to prevent significant direct 
economic loss and preserve economic opportunities that otherwise might 
be foregone.
    This emergency action will help the fishery achieve, but not 
exceed, the allocation of sablefish to the primary sablefish fishery, 
and the sablefish annual catch limit. As such, in evaluating the 
anticipated effects of this emergency action, NMFS determined that the 
effects fall within those described in the Environmental Assessment for 
the 2019-2020 Groundfish Harvest Specifications and Management 
Measures; which is tiered from the Harvest Specifications and 
Management Measures for 2015-2016 and Biennial Periods Thereafter Final 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which discloses the longer-term 
framework and environmental impacts of the biennial specifications 
process. NMFS documented this decision-making process in a Supplemental 
Information Report (see ADDRESSES).

Emergency Measures

    Effective October 27, 2020, this action temporarily extends the 
2020 sablefish primary season for vessels registered to limited entry 
fixed gear, sablefish-endorsed permits North of 36[deg] N lat., from 
October 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020. This action includes a small 
administrative change to allow an additional transfer of sablefish-
endorsed limited entry permits so that these permits may be transferred 
up to two times within a calendar year. This change will allow fishery 
participants to appropriately take advantage of the extended season.
    This action also extends the incidental halibut retention allowance 
for the sablefish primary fishery North of Point Chehalis, Washington, 
to November 15, 2020, which is the latest date allowed by the 
International Pacific Halibut Commission. Under these emergency 
measures, the incidental retention allowance limit is set at 250 pounds 
(113 kg) of dressed halibut per 1,000 pounds (454 kg) of dressed 
sablefish and up to 2 additional Pacific halibut in excess of the 250-
pounds-per-1,000-pound limit per landing. After November 15, any 
incidental halibut would need to be discarded as a prohibited species.

Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this emergency 
rule is consistent with the PCGFMP, Section 305(c) and other provisions 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 
the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982, and other applicable law. 
Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries finds good cause to waive prior notice and the opportunity 
for public comment because it would be impracticable and contrary to 
the public interest.
    The Council did an emergency modification to their September 2020 
meeting agenda to consider taking emergency action in response to 
requests from industry representatives, the Groundfish Advisory 
Subpanel, and the public. These entities raised concerns that many 
vessels would be unable to harvest their allocations before the primary 
season closed due to unforeseen issues resulting from restrictions 
associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council considered and 
ultimately recommended NMFS initiate this action on September 17th, 
with less than 6 weeks remaining before the closure of the sablefish 
primary season on October 31. Providing prior notice through proposed 
rulemaking and public comment period in the normal rulemaking process 
would be counter to public interest by delaying implementation of 
emergency measures intended to provide relief for a time-sensitive 
management problem. Further delays to extend the season through 
emergency action would jeopardize the ability of sablefish primary 
fishery participants to land allocations, and avoid economic hardship. 
For the reasons outlined above, NMFS finds it impracticable and 
contrary to the public interest to provide prior opportunity to comment 
on these emergency measures.
    Additionally, this rule is exempt from the 30-day delayed 
effectiveness provision of the APA under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) because it 
relieves a restriction that would place fishery participants at an 
economic disadvantage. Waiving the 30-day delayed effectiveness for 
this rule is necessary to allow participants in the sablefish primary 
fishery under emergency rules to continue fishing operations with 
minimal interruption beyond the status quo closure date of October 31. 
Not extending the sablefish primary fishery season past October 31 
would present immediate serious economic impacts without contributing 
to the economic goals of the sablefish tier program. Because this rule 
alleviates a restriction, which if continued would otherwise have 
serious and unnecessary economic harm on tier fishery vessels, it is 
not subject to the 30-day delayed effectiveness provision of the APA.
    This action is being taken pursuant to the emergency provision of 
MSA and is exempt from OMB review. This rule is not significant.
    This emergency rule is exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act because the rule is issued without opportunity for 
prior notice and opportunity for public comment.
    This emergency rule contains no information collection requirements 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries.

    Dated: October 21, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

PART 660---FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

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

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


0
2. In Sec.  660.25, add paragraphs (b)(4)(vii)(B)(1) and (2) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  660.25   Permits.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (vii) * * *
    (B) * * *
    (1) Under emergency measures effective October 27, 2020 until 
December 31, 2020, Sablefish-endorsed limited entry fixed gear permits

[[Page 68004]]

(without MS/CV or C/P endorsements) may be registered for use with a 
different vessel up to twice per calendar year.
    (2) [Reserved]
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  660.213, revise paragraph (d)(2) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.213   Fixed gear fishery--recordkeeping and reporting.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (2) For participants in the sablefish primary season, the 
cumulative limit period to which this requirement applies is April 1 
through October 31 (unless otherwise provided for at Sec.  
660.231(b)(1)(i)) or, for an individual vessel owner, when the tier 
limit for the permit(s) registered to the vessel has been reached, 
whichever is earlier.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  660.231, revise paragraph (b)(1), add paragraphs 
(b)(3)(iv)(A), and (B) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.231   Limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) Season dates. North of 36[deg] N lat., the sablefish primary 
season for the limited entry, fixed gear, sablefish-endorsed vessels 
begins at 12 noon local time on April 1 and closes at 12 noon local 
time on October 31, or closes for an individual vessel owner when the 
tier limit for the sablefish endorsed permit(s) registered to the 
vessel has been reached, whichever is earlier, unless otherwise 
announced by the Regional Administrator through the routine management 
measures process described at Sec.  660.60(c).
    (i) Under emergency measures effective October 27, 2020 until 
December 31, 2020, notwithstanding any other section of these 
regulations, North of 36[deg] N lat., the sablefish primary season for 
the limited entry, fixed gear, sablefish-endorsed vessels closes at 12 
noon local time on December 31, or closes for an individual vessel 
owner when the tier limit for the sablefish endorsed permit(s) 
registered to the vessel has been reached, whichever is earlier, unless 
otherwise announced by the Regional Administrator through the routine 
management measures process described at Sec.  660.60(c).
    (ii) [Reserved]
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iv) * * *
    (A) Under emergency measures effective October 27, 2020, until 
November 15, 2020, notwithstanding any other section of these 
regulations, vessels authorized to participate in the sablefish primary 
fishery, licensed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission for 
commercial fishing in Area 2A (waters off Washington, Oregon, 
California), and fishing with longline gear north of Pt. Chehalis, WA 
(46[deg]53.30' N lat.) may possess and land up to 250 pounds (113 kg) 
dressed weight of Pacific halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) 
dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional Pacific 
halibut in excess of the 250-pounds-per-1,000-pound limit per landing. 
Pacific halibut taken and retained in the sablefish primary fishery 
north of Pt. Chehalis may only be landed north of Pt. Chehalis and may 
not be possessed or landed south of Pt. Chehalis.
    (B) [Reserved]
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2020-23700 Filed 10-26-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P