Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Revised Final 2020 and 2021 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 74266-74270 [2020-25004]

Download as PDF khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 74266 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 225 / Friday, November 20, 2020 / Rules and Regulations B. What is codification and is the EPA codifying South Carolina’s hazardous waste program as authorized in this rule? Codification is the process of placing citations and references to the State’s statutes and regulations that comprise the State’s authorized hazardous waste program into the Code of Federal Regulations. The EPA does this by adding those citations and references to the authorized State rules in 40 CFR part 272. The EPA is not codifying the authorization of South Carolina’s revisions at this time. However, the EPA reserves the ability to amend 40 CFR part 272, subpart PP, for the authorization of South Carolina’s program changes at a later date. 7004(b) of the Solid Waste Disposal Act as amended, 42 U.S.C. 6912(a), 6926, and 6974(b). C. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews This final authorization revises South Carolina’s authorized hazardous waste management program pursuant to Section 3006 of RCRA and imposes no requirements other than those currently imposed by State law. For further information on how this authorization complies with applicable executive orders and statutory provisions, please see the Proposed Rule published in the September 11, 2020 Federal Register at 85 FR 56200. The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. The EPA will submit a report containing this document and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication in the Federal Register. A major rule cannot take effect until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This action is not a ‘‘major rule’’ as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2). This final action will be effective November 20, 2020. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Bluefish Fishery; Quota Transfer From MD to NC List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 271 Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedure, Confidential business information, Hazardous waste, Hazardous waste transportation, Indian lands, Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Authority: This action is issued under the authority of sections 2002(a), 3006, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Nov 19, 2020 Jkt 253001 Dated: November 2, 2020. Mary Walker, Regional Administrator, Region 4. [FR Doc. 2020–24950 Filed 11–19–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 200623–0167; RTID 0648– XA626] National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notification; quota transfer. AGENCY: NMFS announces that the State of Maryland is transferring a portion of its 2020 commercial bluefish quota to the State of North Carolina. This quota adjustment is necessary to comply with the Atlantic Bluefish Fishery Management Plan quota transfer provisions. This announcement informs the public of the revised commercial bluefish quotas for Maryland and North Carolina. DATES: Effective November 19, 2020, through December 31, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Hansen, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281–9225. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations governing the Atlantic bluefish fishery are found in 50 CFR 648.160 through 648.167. These regulations require annual specification of a commercial quota that is apportioned among the coastal states from Maine through Florida. The process to set the annual commercial quota and the percent allocated to each state is described in § 648.162, and the final 2020 allocations were published on June 29, 2020 (85 FR 38794). The final rule implementing Amendment 1 to the Bluefish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) published in the Federal Register on July 26, 2000 (65 FR 45844), and provided a mechanism for transferring bluefish quota from one state to another. Two or more states, under mutual agreement and with the concurrence of the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Administrator, SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 can request approval to transfer or combine bluefish commercial quota under § 648.162(e)(1)(i) through (iii). The Regional Administrator must approve any such transfer based on the criteria in § 648.162(e). In evaluating requests to transfer a quota or combine quotas, the Regional Administrator shall consider whether: The transfer or combinations would preclude the overall annual quota from being fully harvested; the transfer addresses an unforeseen variation or contingency in the fishery; and the transfer is consistent with the objectives of the FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Maryland is transferring 30,000 lb (13,608 kg) of bluefish commercial quota to North Carolina through mutual agreement of the states. This transfer was requested to ensure that North Carolina would not exceed its 2020 state quota. The revised bluefish quotas for 2020 are: Maryland, 53,054 lb (24,065 kg) and North Carolina, 1,001,058 lb (454,072 kg). Classification NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action is required by 50 CFR 648.162(e)(1)(i) through (iii), which was issued pursuant to section 304(b), and is exempted from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: November 17, 2020. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–25705 Filed 11–19–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 201105–0291] RTID 0648–XY201 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Revised Final 2020 and 2021 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; closures. AGENCY: NMFS publishes revisions to the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for the 2021 groundfish fisheries of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\20NOR1.SGM 20NOR1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 225 / Friday, November 20, 2020 / Rules and Regulations that are required by the final rule implementing Amendment 109 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). This action is necessary to revise the 2021 seasons associated with the pollock fishery and revise the trawl catcher vessel sector’s Pacific cod seasonal apportionments of the total allowable catch in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the FMP and the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. DATES: The final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for 2021 and associated apportionment of reserves are effective at 0001 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 1, 2020, until the effective date of the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications for GOA groundfish, which are anticipated to be published in the Federal Register in early 2021. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the Final Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Record of Decision (ROD), the annual Supplementary Information Reports (SIRs) to the EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications are available from https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/region/alaska. The 2019 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2019, and SAFE reports for previous years are available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 1007 West 3rd Avenue, Suite 400, Anchorage, AK 99501, phone 907–271–2809, or from the Council’s website at https:// www.npfmc.org. Electronic copies of the Environmental Assessment (EA) and the Regulatory Impact Review and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) prepared for the final rule implementing Amendment 109 to the FMP may be obtained from https:// www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR parts 679 and 680 implement the FMP and govern the groundfish fisheries in the GOA. The Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it, under the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Nov 19, 2020 Jkt 253001 On June 25, 2020, NMFS published a final rule to implement Amendment 109 to the FMP and a regulatory amendment to the regulations governing pollock and Pacific cod fishing in the GOA (85 FR 38093, effective January 1, 2021). The final rule revised the pollock seasons in the GOA by modifying the seasonal apportionment of the annual pollock total allowable catch (TAC) in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA (Western GOA) and Central Regulatory Area of the GOA (Central GOA). Additionally, the final rule revised the Pacific cod TAC seasonal allowances of the TAC to the trawl catcher vessel (CV) sector by increasing the A season allocation of the TAC and decreasing the B season allocation of the TAC in the Western GOA and Central GOA. In order to effectively manage the GOA pollock and Pacific cod fisheries in the beginning of 2021, the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020) must be revised for 2021 to comport with the regulatory revisions contained in the final rule implementing Amendment 109 to the FMP (85 FR 38093, June 25, 2020). In addition, those regulatory revisions will be incorporated into the proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications, which should be published in December 2020. The final 2021 and 2022 harvest specification should be published by March 2021. Amendment 109 to the GOA FMP The Council recommended a regulatory amendment for pollock fisheries in the GOA and Amendment 109 to the FMP for Pacific cod seasonal allowances to trawl CVs with an objective of improving the overall performance of these two fisheries. The Council acknowledged the challenges and management inefficiencies of a pollock fishery spread across four separate seasons. The Council also acknowledged the changes that have occurred in the trawl CV Pacific cod fishery in recent years, resulting in underharvest of B season Pacific cod TAC. Specifically, the Council examined the amount of uncaught Pacific cod TAC in all gear sectors during the B season in the Western GOA and Central GOA, options for changing pollock and Pacific cod seasonal allowances with the goal of improving efficiency in fishery management, and whether delaying the start of the pollock C season in the Western GOA and Central GOA from August 25 to September 1 might provide operational benefits to vessels and processors that also engage in salmon fisheries or groundfish fisheries outside of the GOA. A complete description of the purpose PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 74267 and background of Amendment 109 is in the proposed rule for that action (85 FR 11939, February 28, 2020), as well as the associated final rule (85 FR 38093, June 25, 2020). The final rule implementing Amendment 109 (85 FR 38093, June 25, 2020) modified the seasonal allowances of the Pacific cod TAC apportioned to trawl CVs in the Western GOA and Central GOA, as well as revised the pollock seasons in those areas. The regulatory revisions associated with Amendment 109 revised the Pacific cod seasonal allowances to increase the trawl CV sector’s A season TAC while proportionally decreasing the sector’s B season TAC in the Western GOA and Central GOA (85 FR 38093, June 25, 2020). The final rule also implemented a regulatory amendment that combines the Western GOA and Central GOA trawl pollock fishery A and B seasons into a single season (now designated as the A season), and the C and D seasons into a single season (now designated as the B season), and by changing the annual start date of the redesignated pollock B season from August 25 to September 1. These changes for pollock and Pacific cod are applicable only to the Western GOA and Central GOA, which are comprised of NMFS statistical area 610 for the Western GOA and NMFS statistical areas 620 and 630 for the Central GOA (see Figure 3 to 50 CFR part 679). Revisions to the Final 2020 and 2021 Harvest Specifications for 20201 for the Gulf of Alaska Based on the approval of Amendment 109 and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 679 (effective January 1, 2021), NMFS is revising the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for 2021 for pollock and Pacific cod in the GOA. With this final rule, NMFS revises Tables 4 and 6 in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020) to be consistent with the final rule implementing Amendment 109. Tables 4 and 6 were originally published in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for the GOA and are available at the NMFS, Alaska Region website: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/alaska-groundfishharvest-specifications. This final rule uses the same table numbers and titles that were used in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. However, the title of Table 4 is revised to remove the term ‘‘Seasonal Biomass Distribution,’’ and the reasons for this revision are addressed in the next section. E:\FR\FM\20NOR1.SGM 20NOR1 74268 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 225 / Friday, November 20, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Revision to Table 4—Final 2021 Distribution of Pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska; Area Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC Table 4 lists the final 2021 distribution of pollock TAC in the Western GOA and Central GOA, including area and seasonal apportionments. The table published in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications reflects four seasonal allowances, consistent with the regulations in effect when the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications were published. Table 4 must be revised to reflect only two seasonal apportionments in accordance with regulatory changes made under Amendment 109. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) (as revised), the annual pollock TAC specified for the Western GOA and Central GOA is now apportioned into two seasonal allowances of 50 percent. As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (ii) (as revised), the A and B season allowances are available from January 20 through May 31 and September 1 through November 1, respectively. This is a change from 2020 and prior years, when there were four specified pollock seasons and a different start date for one of the seasons. This final action revises Table 4 to incorporate the correct seasonal apportionments for 2021 pollock in the Western GOA and Central GOA. Table 4 will no longer contain the seasonal apportionments (in percentages). Those percentages will continue to be available in the annual pollock stock assessment: The stock assessment will continue to use a fourseason methodology to determine pollock distribution in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, and the pollock distribution over four seasons will then be summed and used to calculate seasonal apportionments for the two seasons (A and B seasons) set forth in the revised regulations. TABLE 4—FINAL 2021 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE WESTERN AND CENTRAL REGULATORY AREAS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA; AREA APPORTIONMENTS; AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF ANNUAL TAC 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Shumigan (Area 610) Season 2 Chirikof (Area 620) Kodiak (Area 630) Total 3 A (January 20–May 31) ................................................................................... B (September 1–November 1) ........................................................................ 1,067 18,708 42,260 13,899 8,354 19,074 51,682 51,682 Annual Total ............................................................................................. 19,775 56,159 27,429 103,363 1 Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding. established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (ii), the A and B season allowances are available from January 20 through May 31 and September 1 through November 1, respectively. The annual TAC for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas is divided into two seasonal allowances of 50 percent. The seasonal allowances are apportioned among Areas 610, 620, and 630 based on an abundance-based distribution methodology contained in the annual pollock stock assessment report. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 3 The West Yakutat District and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. 2 As Revision to Table 6—Final 2021 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocation of Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch (TAC) Amounts in the GOA; Allocations in the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors, and the Eastern GOA Inshore and Offshore Processing Components Table 6 lists the seasonal allocations of the 2021 Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA and Central GOA among gear and operational sectors. These allocations are made pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i) (as revised). The table published in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications incorporates seasonal apportionments for the trawl CV sector, among other sectors. Table 6 must be revised to incorporate the correct 2021 seasonal apportionments to trawl CVs between the A and B seasons in accordance with regulatory changes made under Amendment 109. The A season apportionment for trawl CVs increased to 31.54 percent and 25.29 percent in the Western GOA and Central GOA, respectively. The B season apportionment for trawl CVs decreased to 6.86 percent and 16.29 percent in the Western GOA and Central GOA, respectively. This final action revises in Table 6 the 2021 seasonal allowances of the trawl CV sector’s annual TAC limit in the Western GOA and Central GOA to reflect the revised seasonal apportionments. TABLE 6—FINAL 2021 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATION OF PACIFIC COD TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS IN THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS, AND THE EASTERN GOA INSHORE AND OFFSHORE PROCESSING COMPONENTS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] A Season Annual allocation (mt) khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Regulatory area and sector Western GOA: Jig (3.5% of TAC) .................................................................................. Hook-and-line CV ................................................................................... Hook-and-line C/P .................................................................................. Trawl CV ................................................................................................ Trawl C/P ............................................................................................... Pot CV and Pot C/P ............................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Nov 19, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4700 73 28 397 769 48 761 Sfmt 4700 Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC B Season Seasonal allowances (mt) N/A 0.70 10.90 31.54 0.90 19.80 E:\FR\FM\20NOR1.SGM 44 14 218 632 18 397 20NOR1 Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC N/A 0.70 8.90 6.86 1.50 18.20 Seasonal allowances (mt) 29 14 178 137 30 365 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 225 / Friday, November 20, 2020 / Rules and Regulations 74269 TABLE 6—FINAL 2021 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATION OF PACIFIC COD TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS IN THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS, AND THE EASTERN GOA INSHORE AND OFFSHORE PROCESSING COMPONENTS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] A Season Annual allocation (mt) Regulatory area and sector Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC B Season Seasonal allowances (mt) Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC Seasonal allowances (mt) Total ................................................................................................ 2,076 63.84 1,323 36.16 753 Central GOA: Jig (1.0% of TAC) .................................................................................. Hook-and-line <50 CV ........................................................................... Hook-and-line ≥50 CV ........................................................................... Hook-and-line C/P .................................................................................. Trawl CV 1 .............................................................................................. Trawl C/P ............................................................................................... Pot CV and Pot C/P ............................................................................... 38 550 253 192 1,567 158 1,048 N/A 9.32 5.61 4.11 25.29 2.00 17.83 23 351 211 155 953 75 672 N/A 5.29 1.10 1.00 16.29 2.19 9.97 15 199 41 38 614 83 376 Total ................................................................................................ 3,806 64.16 2,440 35.84 1,366 Eastern GOA .......................................................................................... ........................ 549 Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) 494 Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 55 1 Trawl catcher vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 145 mt, of the annual Central GOA Pacific cod TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679). This apportionment is deducted from the Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table 13. Final 2021 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679). This final rule is necessary to ensure that appropriate seasonal allocations will be in effect for the beginning of the 2021 fishing year for those fishery participants affected by the pollock season changes and the trawl CV Pacific cod seasonal allocation changes that were established under Amendment 109 and its implementing regulations. These changes to the allocations also will be incorporated in future harvest specifications for the GOA groundfish fisheries. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Small Entity Compliance Guide The following information is a plain language guide to assist small entities in complying with this final rule as required by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This final rule is necessary to revise final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for 2021 pollock and Pacific cod in the GOA so that the allocations and seasons are consistent with new fishery allocations and seasons established under Amendment 109. This action affects all fishermen who participate in the pollock and Pacific cod fisheries in the GOA. The specific amounts of pollock and Pacific cod TAC apportionments and seasonal allocations are provided in tabular form to assist the reader. NMFS will announce closures of directed fishing in the Federal Register and in information bulletins released by the Alaska Region. Affected fishermen should keep themselves informed of such closures. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Nov 19, 2020 Jkt 253001 Classification NMFS determined that these revisions to the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for 2021 are consistent with the FMP and with the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws. This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA) finds good cause to waive prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this action as notice and comment is unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Through this action, NOAA revises the final 2021 GOA harvest specifications to be consistent with the final rule implementing Amendment 109 to the FMP and to ensure that the 2021 pollock and trawl CV Pacific cod allocation and season changes implemented under Amendment 109 will be effective at the beginning of the 2021 fishing year. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this action is unnecessary because the revisions from this action merely update the 2021 GOA harvest specifications to reflect allocations and seasons implemented and required by Amendment 109, and which have already been subject to notice and comment. This action does not revise the final 2020 and 2021 GOA harvest specifications in any substantive manner not previously the subject of notice and comment during the development of Amendment 109. PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 In addition, it is important and necessary that the pollock and Pacific cod allocations revised under Amendment 109 are effective at the beginning of the 2021 fishing year, rather than waiting to implement Amendment 109’s revisions in the final 2021 and 2022 GOA harvest specifications, which will not be effective until after the start of the 2021 fishing year. The pollock and Pacific cod fisheries in the Western and Central GOA are intensive, fast-paced fisheries. U.S. fishing vessels have demonstrated the capacity to catch the Pacific cod TAC allocations in these fisheries. Any delay in allocating the 2021 pollock and Pacific cod TACs under Amendment 109 would cause confusion to the industry and potential economic harm through unnecessary discards. Determining which fisheries may close is impossible because these fisheries are affected by several factors that cannot be predicted in advance, including fishing effort, weather, movement of fishery stocks, and market price. Furthermore, the closure of one fishery has a cascading effect on other fisheries by freeing up fishing vessels, allowing them to move from closed fisheries to open fisheries, increasing the fishing capacity in those open fisheries, and causing them to close at an accelerated pace. Accordingly, waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment and publication of this final rule is necessary to ensure that the allocations and limitations required under Amendment 109 will be effective at the beginning of the 2021 fishing year and to provide the regulated community E:\FR\FM\20NOR1.SGM 20NOR1 74270 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 225 / Friday, November 20, 2020 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES with timely, adequate, and accurate information necessary to allow the industry to plan for the 2021 fishing season, to conduct orderly and efficient fisheries, and to avoid potential disruption to the fishing fleet and processors. NMFS prepared a Final EIS for the harvest strategy implemented by the annual harvest specifications and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. In January 2020, NMFS prepared its annual Supplementary Information Report (SIR) for the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications and determined that a supplemental EIS is not necessary to implement the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and annual SIRs for this action are available (see ADDRESSES). NMFS also prepared an EA and FONSI in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Nov 19, 2020 Jkt 253001 conjunction with Amendment 109 to the GOA FMP (See ADDRESSES). A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was prepared to evaluate the impacts on small entities resulting from the alternative harvest strategies employed in establishing the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, in accordance with Section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 604). The FRFA met the statutory requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (5 U.S.C. 601–612). The FRFA was published with the harvest specifications final rule (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020) and is not repeated here. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 the proposed rule stage that Amendment 109 would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule (85 FR 11939, February 28, 2020) and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required, and none was prepared, for Amendment 109. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540 (f), 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105–277; Pub. L. 106–31; Pub. L. 106–554; Pub. L. 108–199; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 109–241; Pub. L. 109–479. Dated: November 6, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–25004 Filed 11–19–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\20NOR1.SGM 20NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 225 (Friday, November 20, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 74266-74270]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-25004]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 201105-0291]
RTID 0648-XY201


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska; Revised Final 2020 and 2021 Harvest Specifications for 
Groundfish

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

ACTION: Final rule; closures.

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SUMMARY: NMFS publishes revisions to the final 2020 and 2021 harvest 
specifications for the 2021 groundfish fisheries of the Gulf of Alaska 
(GOA)

[[Page 74267]]

that are required by the final rule implementing Amendment 109 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). 
This action is necessary to revise the 2021 seasons associated with the 
pollock fishery and revise the trawl catcher vessel sector's Pacific 
cod seasonal apportionments of the total allowable catch in the Western 
and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. The intended effect of this 
action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in 
accordance with the FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act.

DATES: The final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for 2021 and 
associated apportionment of reserves are effective at 0001 hours, 
Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 1, 2020, until the effective date 
of the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications for GOA groundfish, 
which are anticipated to be published in the Federal Register in early 
2021.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the Final Alaska Groundfish Harvest 
Specifications Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Record of Decision 
(ROD), the annual Supplementary Information Reports (SIRs) to the EIS, 
and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for the 
final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications are available from https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/region/alaska. The 2019 Stock Assessment and 
Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the 
GOA, dated November 2019, and SAFE reports for previous years are 
available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) 
at 1007 West 3rd Avenue, Suite 400, Anchorage, AK 99501, phone 907-271-
2809, or from the Council's website at https://www.npfmc.org. 
Electronic copies of the Environmental Assessment (EA) and the 
Regulatory Impact Review and the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) prepared for the final 
rule implementing Amendment 109 to the FMP may be obtained from https://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR parts 679 and 
680 implement the FMP and govern the groundfish fisheries in the GOA. 
The Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it, under the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. General regulations 
governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600.
    On June 25, 2020, NMFS published a final rule to implement 
Amendment 109 to the FMP and a regulatory amendment to the regulations 
governing pollock and Pacific cod fishing in the GOA (85 FR 38093, 
effective January 1, 2021). The final rule revised the pollock seasons 
in the GOA by modifying the seasonal apportionment of the annual 
pollock total allowable catch (TAC) in the Western Regulatory Area of 
the GOA (Western GOA) and Central Regulatory Area of the GOA (Central 
GOA). Additionally, the final rule revised the Pacific cod TAC seasonal 
allowances of the TAC to the trawl catcher vessel (CV) sector by 
increasing the A season allocation of the TAC and decreasing the B 
season allocation of the TAC in the Western GOA and Central GOA.
    In order to effectively manage the GOA pollock and Pacific cod 
fisheries in the beginning of 2021, the final 2020 and 2021 harvest 
specifications (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020) must be revised for 2021 
to comport with the regulatory revisions contained in the final rule 
implementing Amendment 109 to the FMP (85 FR 38093, June 25, 2020). In 
addition, those regulatory revisions will be incorporated into the 
proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications, which should be 
published in December 2020. The final 2021 and 2022 harvest 
specification should be published by March 2021.

Amendment 109 to the GOA FMP

    The Council recommended a regulatory amendment for pollock 
fisheries in the GOA and Amendment 109 to the FMP for Pacific cod 
seasonal allowances to trawl CVs with an objective of improving the 
overall performance of these two fisheries. The Council acknowledged 
the challenges and management inefficiencies of a pollock fishery 
spread across four separate seasons. The Council also acknowledged the 
changes that have occurred in the trawl CV Pacific cod fishery in 
recent years, resulting in underharvest of B season Pacific cod TAC. 
Specifically, the Council examined the amount of uncaught Pacific cod 
TAC in all gear sectors during the B season in the Western GOA and 
Central GOA, options for changing pollock and Pacific cod seasonal 
allowances with the goal of improving efficiency in fishery management, 
and whether delaying the start of the pollock C season in the Western 
GOA and Central GOA from August 25 to September 1 might provide 
operational benefits to vessels and processors that also engage in 
salmon fisheries or groundfish fisheries outside of the GOA. A complete 
description of the purpose and background of Amendment 109 is in the 
proposed rule for that action (85 FR 11939, February 28, 2020), as well 
as the associated final rule (85 FR 38093, June 25, 2020).
    The final rule implementing Amendment 109 (85 FR 38093, June 25, 
2020) modified the seasonal allowances of the Pacific cod TAC 
apportioned to trawl CVs in the Western GOA and Central GOA, as well as 
revised the pollock seasons in those areas. The regulatory revisions 
associated with Amendment 109 revised the Pacific cod seasonal 
allowances to increase the trawl CV sector's A season TAC while 
proportionally decreasing the sector's B season TAC in the Western GOA 
and Central GOA (85 FR 38093, June 25, 2020). The final rule also 
implemented a regulatory amendment that combines the Western GOA and 
Central GOA trawl pollock fishery A and B seasons into a single season 
(now designated as the A season), and the C and D seasons into a single 
season (now designated as the B season), and by changing the annual 
start date of the redesignated pollock B season from August 25 to 
September 1. These changes for pollock and Pacific cod are applicable 
only to the Western GOA and Central GOA, which are comprised of NMFS 
statistical area 610 for the Western GOA and NMFS statistical areas 620 
and 630 for the Central GOA (see Figure 3 to 50 CFR part 679).

Revisions to the Final 2020 and 2021 Harvest Specifications for 20201 
for the Gulf of Alaska

    Based on the approval of Amendment 109 and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 679 (effective January 1, 2021), NMFS is 
revising the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for 2021 for 
pollock and Pacific cod in the GOA. With this final rule, NMFS revises 
Tables 4 and 6 in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for 
groundfish in the GOA (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020) to be consistent 
with the final rule implementing Amendment 109. Tables 4 and 6 were 
originally published in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications 
for the GOA and are available at the NMFS, Alaska Region website: 
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/alaska-groundfish-harvest-specifications. This final rule uses the same table 
numbers and titles that were used in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest 
specifications. However, the title of Table 4 is revised to remove the 
term ``Seasonal Biomass Distribution,'' and the reasons for this 
revision are addressed in the next section.

[[Page 74268]]

Revision to Table 4--Final 2021 Distribution of Pollock in the Western 
and Central Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska; Area 
Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC

    Table 4 lists the final 2021 distribution of pollock TAC in the 
Western GOA and Central GOA, including area and seasonal 
apportionments. The table published in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest 
specifications reflects four seasonal allowances, consistent with the 
regulations in effect when the final 2020 and 2021 harvest 
specifications were published. Table 4 must be revised to reflect only 
two seasonal apportionments in accordance with regulatory changes made 
under Amendment 109. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) (as 
revised), the annual pollock TAC specified for the Western GOA and 
Central GOA is now apportioned into two seasonal allowances of 50 
percent. As established by Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (ii) (as 
revised), the A and B season allowances are available from January 20 
through May 31 and September 1 through November 1, respectively. This 
is a change from 2020 and prior years, when there were four specified 
pollock seasons and a different start date for one of the seasons. This 
final action revises Table 4 to incorporate the correct seasonal 
apportionments for 2021 pollock in the Western GOA and Central GOA. 
Table 4 will no longer contain the seasonal apportionments (in 
percentages). Those percentages will continue to be available in the 
annual pollock stock assessment: The stock assessment will continue to 
use a four-season methodology to determine pollock distribution in the 
Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, and the pollock 
distribution over four seasons will then be summed and used to 
calculate seasonal apportionments for the two seasons (A and B seasons) 
set forth in the revised regulations.

 Table 4--Final 2021 Distribution of Pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska;
                         Area Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC \1\
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Shumigan (Area  Chirikof (Area   Kodiak (Area
                   Season \2\                          610)            620)            630)          Total \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A (January 20-May 31)...........................           1,067          42,260           8,354          51,682
B (September 1-November 1)......................          18,708          13,899          19,074          51,682
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total................................          19,775          56,159          27,429         103,363
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding.
\2\ As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (ii), the A and B season allowances are available from
  January 20 through May 31 and September 1 through November 1, respectively. The annual TAC for the Western and
  Central Regulatory Areas is divided into two seasonal allowances of 50 percent. The seasonal allowances are
  apportioned among Areas 610, 620, and 630 based on an abundance-based distribution methodology contained in
  the annual pollock stock assessment report. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore
  components are not shown in this table.
\3\ The West Yakutat District and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are
  not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table.

Revision to Table 6--Final 2021 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocation 
of Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch (TAC) Amounts in the GOA; 
Allocations in the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors, and the Eastern 
GOA Inshore and Offshore Processing Components

    Table 6 lists the seasonal allocations of the 2021 Pacific cod TAC 
in the Western GOA and Central GOA among gear and operational sectors. 
These allocations are made pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i) (as 
revised). The table published in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest 
specifications incorporates seasonal apportionments for the trawl CV 
sector, among other sectors. Table 6 must be revised to incorporate the 
correct 2021 seasonal apportionments to trawl CVs between the A and B 
seasons in accordance with regulatory changes made under Amendment 109. 
The A season apportionment for trawl CVs increased to 31.54 percent and 
25.29 percent in the Western GOA and Central GOA, respectively. The B 
season apportionment for trawl CVs decreased to 6.86 percent and 16.29 
percent in the Western GOA and Central GOA, respectively. This final 
action revises in Table 6 the 2021 seasonal allowances of the trawl CV 
sector's annual TAC limit in the Western GOA and Central GOA to reflect 
the revised seasonal apportionments.

Table 6--Final 2021 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocation of Pacific Cod TAC Amounts in the GOA; Allocations in
     the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors, and the Eastern GOA Inshore and Offshore Processing Components
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          A Season                          B Season
                                             -------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  Annual           Sector                            Sector
 Regulatory area and sector     allocation      percentage of      Seasonal       percentage of      Seasonal
                                   (mt)        annual non-jig     allowances     annual non-jig     allowances
                                                     TAC             (mt)              TAC             (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA:
    Jig (3.5% of TAC).......              73               N/A              44               N/A              29
    Hook-and-line CV........              28              0.70              14              0.70              14
    Hook-and-line C/P.......             397             10.90             218              8.90             178
    Trawl CV................             769             31.54             632              6.86             137
    Trawl C/P...............              48              0.90              18              1.50              30
    Pot CV and Pot C/P......             761             19.80             397             18.20             365
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 74269]]

 
        Total...............           2,076             63.84           1,323             36.16             753
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Central GOA:
    Jig (1.0% of TAC).......              38               N/A              23               N/A              15
    Hook-and-line <50 CV....             550              9.32             351              5.29             199
    Hook-and-line >=50 CV...             253              5.61             211              1.10              41
    Hook-and-line C/P.......             192              4.11             155              1.00              38
    Trawl CV \1\............           1,567             25.29             953             16.29             614
    Trawl C/P...............             158              2.00              75              2.19              83
    Pot CV and Pot C/P......           1,048             17.83             672              9.97             376
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...............           3,806             64.16           2,440             35.84           1,366
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Eastern GOA.............  ..............     Inshore (90% of Annual TAC)
                                Offshore (10% of Annual TAC)
                                         549                 494
                                             55
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Trawl catcher vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 145 mt, of the
  annual Central GOA Pacific cod TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679). This apportionment is deducted from the
  Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table 13. Final 2021 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the
  Central GOA and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679).

    This final rule is necessary to ensure that appropriate seasonal 
allocations will be in effect for the beginning of the 2021 fishing 
year for those fishery participants affected by the pollock season 
changes and the trawl CV Pacific cod seasonal allocation changes that 
were established under Amendment 109 and its implementing regulations. 
These changes to the allocations also will be incorporated in future 
harvest specifications for the GOA groundfish fisheries.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    The following information is a plain language guide to assist small 
entities in complying with this final rule as required by the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This final rule 
is necessary to revise final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for 
2021 pollock and Pacific cod in the GOA so that the allocations and 
seasons are consistent with new fishery allocations and seasons 
established under Amendment 109. This action affects all fishermen who 
participate in the pollock and Pacific cod fisheries in the GOA. The 
specific amounts of pollock and Pacific cod TAC apportionments and 
seasonal allocations are provided in tabular form to assist the reader. 
NMFS will announce closures of directed fishing in the Federal Register 
and in information bulletins released by the Alaska Region. Affected 
fishermen should keep themselves informed of such closures.

Classification

    NMFS determined that these revisions to the final 2020 and 2021 
harvest specifications for 2021 are consistent with the FMP and with 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other 
applicable laws.
    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries, NOAA (AA) finds good cause to waive prior notice and 
opportunity for public comment on this action as notice and comment is 
unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Through this action, 
NOAA revises the final 2021 GOA harvest specifications to be consistent 
with the final rule implementing Amendment 109 to the FMP and to ensure 
that the 2021 pollock and trawl CV Pacific cod allocation and season 
changes implemented under Amendment 109 will be effective at the 
beginning of the 2021 fishing year. Prior notice and opportunity for 
public comment on this action is unnecessary because the revisions from 
this action merely update the 2021 GOA harvest specifications to 
reflect allocations and seasons implemented and required by Amendment 
109, and which have already been subject to notice and comment. This 
action does not revise the final 2020 and 2021 GOA harvest 
specifications in any substantive manner not previously the subject of 
notice and comment during the development of Amendment 109.
    In addition, it is important and necessary that the pollock and 
Pacific cod allocations revised under Amendment 109 are effective at 
the beginning of the 2021 fishing year, rather than waiting to 
implement Amendment 109's revisions in the final 2021 and 2022 GOA 
harvest specifications, which will not be effective until after the 
start of the 2021 fishing year. The pollock and Pacific cod fisheries 
in the Western and Central GOA are intensive, fast-paced fisheries. 
U.S. fishing vessels have demonstrated the capacity to catch the 
Pacific cod TAC allocations in these fisheries. Any delay in allocating 
the 2021 pollock and Pacific cod TACs under Amendment 109 would cause 
confusion to the industry and potential economic harm through 
unnecessary discards. Determining which fisheries may close is 
impossible because these fisheries are affected by several factors that 
cannot be predicted in advance, including fishing effort, weather, 
movement of fishery stocks, and market price. Furthermore, the closure 
of one fishery has a cascading effect on other fisheries by freeing up 
fishing vessels, allowing them to move from closed fisheries to open 
fisheries, increasing the fishing capacity in those open fisheries, and 
causing them to close at an accelerated pace. Accordingly, waiver of 
prior notice and opportunity for public comment and publication of this 
final rule is necessary to ensure that the allocations and limitations 
required under Amendment 109 will be effective at the beginning of the 
2021 fishing year and to provide the regulated community

[[Page 74270]]

with timely, adequate, and accurate information necessary to allow the 
industry to plan for the 2021 fishing season, to conduct orderly and 
efficient fisheries, and to avoid potential disruption to the fishing 
fleet and processors.
    NMFS prepared a Final EIS for the harvest strategy implemented by 
the annual harvest specifications and made it available to the public 
on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the 
Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. In January 2020, NMFS 
prepared its annual Supplementary Information Report (SIR) for the 2020 
and 2021 harvest specifications and determined that a supplemental EIS 
is not necessary to implement the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. 
Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and annual SIRs for this action are 
available (see ADDRESSES). NMFS also prepared an EA and FONSI in 
conjunction with Amendment 109 to the GOA FMP (See ADDRESSES).
    A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was prepared to 
evaluate the impacts on small entities resulting from the alternative 
harvest strategies employed in establishing the final 2020 and 2021 
harvest specifications, in accordance with Section 604 of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 604). The FRFA met the 
statutory requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 
1996 (5 U.S.C. 601-612). The FRFA was published with the harvest 
specifications final rule (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020) and is not 
repeated here.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that Amendment 109 would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule (85 FR 11939, February 28, 2020) and is not repeated 
here. No comments were received regarding certification. As a result, a 
regulatory flexibility analysis was not required, and none was 
prepared, for Amendment 109.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540 (f), 1801 et 
seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105-277; Pub. L. 106-31; Pub. 
L. 106-554; Pub. L. 108-199; Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 109-241; Pub. 
L. 109-479.

    Dated: November 6, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-25004 Filed 11-19-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P