Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Proposed 2021 and 2022 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 78076-78096 [2020-26592]

Download as PDF 78076 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules Published in the Federal Register on December 3, 2020, the Board will provide an opportunity for additional public participation in a subsequent decision. ADDRESSES: Comments and replies may be filed with the Board via e-filing on the Board’s website at www.stb.gov and will be posted to the Board’s website. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy Ziehm at (202) 245–0391. Assistance for the hearing impaired is available through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On July 31, 2020, five railroad parties— Canadian National Railway Company (CN); CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT); The Kansas City Southern Railway Company (KCS); Norfolk Southern Corporation; and Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) (collectively, Petitioners) 1—filed a petition for rulemaking to create a new, voluntary small rate case arbitration program, to be codified at 49 CFR part 1108a, which would function alongside the Board’s existing arbitration program at 49 CFR part 1108. Petitioners pledge to participate in their proposed arbitration program for a period of five years, provided the Board adopts the program according to the terms set forth in the petition, including (among other things) a right to withdraw from the program if the Board adopts the Final Offer Rate Review (FORR) process 2 without exempting carriers that participate in the program from the FORR process. (Pet. 2, 17.) Replies to the petition were filed on August 20, 2020, by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA); Olin Corporation (Olin); the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM); and (filing jointly) the American Chemistry Council, Corn Refiners Association, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, National Industrial Transportation League, The Chlorine Institute, and The Fertilizer Institute (Joint Shippers). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also filed a reply. Olin, AFPM, and the Joint Shippers generally object to the Petitioners’ requested program.3 While USDA and khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS DATES: 1 The petition lists one of the petitioners only as ‘‘CN.’’ In their supplemental filing, Petitioners identify this party as the ‘‘U.S. operating subsidiaries of CN.’’ Although not identified in either filing, the Board understands ‘‘CN’’ to mean Canadian National Railway Company. Another petitioner is listed as Norfolk Southern Corp., but in the supplemental filing, the party is identified as Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NSR), the operating affiliate of Norfolk Southern Corp. 2 The Board proposed FORR in Final Offer Rate Review, EP 755 (STB served Sept. 12, 2019). 3 In a comment filed in Docket No. EP 755, the U.S. Wheat Associates Transportation Working VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 NGFA express support for commencing a rulemaking proceeding, they advocate for certain changes to the program requested by the Petitioners. (USDA Reply 1; NGFA Reply 1–2.) By decision issued on August 26, 2020, the Director of the Office of Proceedings directed Petitioners to submit a supplemental pleading responding to the replies and allowed other interested persons to respond as well. On September 10, 2020, Petitioners submitted a supplemental filing, as did AFPM, U.S. Wheat, and the Joint Shippers. Petitioners state that they are agreeable to some modifications to their proposed program, but not to the modifications suggested by other interested parties on confidentiality, exemption from FORR, and a prohibition on revenue adequacy considerations. The shipper groups renewed their objections to Petitioners’ proposed program. The Board favors the resolution of disputes through alternative dispute resolution whenever possible, see 49 CFR 1109.1, and has also been actively working to expand access to rate relief, particularly for smaller disputes. The Rate Reform Task Force (RRTF), which the Board established in 2018 to develop recommendations for rate reform, recommended legislation that would permit mandatory arbitration of small disputes, in addition to a Boardadministered final offer decisionmaking process,4 the latter of which the Board has proposed in Docket No. EP 755. (RRTF Report 14–20.) In order for the Board to give further consideration to providing a new arbitration program under which parties would voluntarily participate to resolve rate disputes, the Board concludes that it is appropriate to institute a rulemaking proceeding to consider Petitioners’ proposal.5 The Board will provide an opportunity for additional public participation in a subsequent decision. List of Subjects in 49 CFR 1108 Administrative practice and procedure, Railroads. It is ordered: 1. Petitioners’ request to initiate a rulemaking proceeding is granted, as discussed above. Group (U.S. Wheat) also expressed ‘‘several concerns’’ regarding the Petitioners’ requested program. See U.S. Wheat Comment 6, Aug. 12, 2020, Final Offer Rate Review, EP 755. 4 The RRTF issued its report on April 25, 2019. The RRTF Report is available on the Board’s website at https://prod.stb.gov/wp-content/uploads/ Rate-Reform-Task-Force-Report-April-2019.pdf. 5 The Board also notes the Petitioners’ proposed interrelationship between their proposed arbitration program and the Board’s proposal in Docket No. EP 755. PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 2. Notice of this decision will be published in the Federal Register. 3. This decision is effective on its service date. Decided: November 24, 2020. By the Board, Board Members Begeman, Fuchs, and Oberman. Tammy Lowery, Clearance Clerk. [FR Doc. 2020–26506 Filed 12–2–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4915–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 201125–0318; RTID 0648– XY115] Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Proposed 2021 and 2022 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; harvest specifications and request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2021 and 2022 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The 2021 harvest specifications supersede those previously set in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, and the 2022 harvest specifications will be superseded in early 2022 when the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications are published. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). DATES: Comments must be received by January 4, 2021. ADDRESSES: Submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS– 2020–0140, by either of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules 0140, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Records Office. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668. Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the comment period ends. All comments received are a part of the public record, and NMFS will post the comments for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender is publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS, and the annual Supplementary Information Reports (SIRs) to the Final EIS prepared for this action are available from https:// www.regulations.gov. An updated 2021 SIR for the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications will be available from the same source. The final 2019 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2019, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 1007 West Third, Suite 400, Anchorage, AK 99501–2252, phone 907–271–2809, or from the Council’s website at https://www.npfmc.org. The 2020 SAFE report for the GOA will be available from the same source. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680. The FMP and its implementing regulations require that NMFS, after consultation with the Council, specify the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species, the sum of which must be VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 within the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt) (§ 679.20(a)(1)(i)(B)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof, Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. The proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 19 of this rule satisfy these requirements. For 2021 and 2022, the sum of the proposed TAC amounts is 402,783 mt. Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 2020 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 2021 SIR to the Final EIS that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the final 2020 SAFE reports prepared for the 2021 and 2022 groundfish fisheries. Other Actions Affecting or Potentially Affecting the 2021 and 2022 Harvest Specifications Amendment 109 to the FMP: Revisions to the GOA Pollock Seasons and Pacific Cod Seasonal Allocations On June 25, 2020, NMFS published a final rule to implement Amendment 109 to the FMP (85 FR 38093), effective January 1, 2021. The final rule revised the pollock seasons and allocations in the GOA, along with Pacific cod season allocations. Amendment 109 modified the existing annual pollock TAC allocation to two equal seasonal allocations (50 percent of TAC), rather than four equal seasonal allocations (25 percent of TAC). The pollock A and B seasons were combined into a January 20 through May 31 A season, and the pollock C and D seasons were combined into a September 1 through November 1 B season. Additionally, Amendment 109 revised the Pacific cod TAC seasonal apportionments to the trawl catcher vessel (CV) sector by increasing the A season allocation and decreasing the B season allocation. The revisions implemented by Amendment 109 are incorporated into these proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications. Amendment 110 to the FMP: Reclassify Sculpins as an Ecosystem Component Species On July 10, 2020, NMFS published the final rule to implement Amendment 110 to the FMP (85 FR 41427). The final rule reclassified sculpins in the FMP as an ‘‘Ecosystem Component’’ species, PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 78077 which is a category of non-target species that are not in need of conservation and management. Accordingly, NMFS will no longer set an Overfishing Level (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), and TAC for sculpins in the GOA groundfish harvest specifications, beginning with these proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications. Amendment 110 prohibits directed fishing for sculpins, while maintaining recordkeeping and reporting requirements for sculpins. Amendment 110 also establishes a maximum retainable amount for sculpins when directed fishing for groundfish species at 20 percent to discourage targeting sculpin species. Potential Revisions to the Sablefish Apportionment Process The Alaska-wide sablefish ABC is apportioned between six areas within the GOA and BSAI (the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, Western Gulf, Central Gulf, West Yakutat, and East Yakutat/ Southeast Areas). Since 2013, a fixed apportionment methodology has been used to apportion the ABC between those six years. However, a new apportionment methodology is being considered that could affect the apportionment of sablefish ABC, as well as TACs and gear allocations between the trawl and fixed gear sectors, specified in future GOA groundfish harvest specifications. The Joint BSAI and GOA Groundfish Plan Team, Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Council will review and propose any changes to the sablefish ABC apportionment methodology and could recommend changes for the final 2021 and 2022 groundfish harvest specifications. Proposed ABC and TAC Specifications In October 2020, the Council’s SSC, its Advisory Panel (AP), and the Council reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information about the condition of the GOA groundfish stocks. The Council’s GOA Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) compiled and presented this information in the final 2019 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2019 (see ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of each species’ biomass and other biological parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team recommends, and the SSC sets, an OFL and ABC for each species or species group. The amounts proposed for the 2021 and E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 78078 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules 2022 OFLs and ABCs are based on the 2019 SAFE report. The AP and Council recommended that the proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs be set equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of the species and species groups further discussed below. The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs could be changed in the final harvest specifications depending on the most recent scientific information contained in the final 2020 SAFE report. The stock assessments that will comprise, in part, the 2020 SAFE report are available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ population-assessments/north-pacificgroundfish-stock-assessment-andfishery-evaluation. The final 2020 SAFE report will be available from the same source. In November 2020, the Plan Team will update the 2019 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2020, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team will compile this information and present the draft 2020 SAFE report at the December 2020 Council meeting. At that meeting, the SSC and the Council will review the 2020 SAFE report, and the Council will approve the 2020 SAFE report. The Council will consider information in the 2020 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2020 Plan Team meeting and December 2020 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written public comments in making its recommendations for the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(2) and (3), the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if warranted based on the biological condition of groundfish stocks or a variety of socioeconomic considerations, or if required to cause the sum of TACs to fall within the OY range. Many of the scheduled 2020 GOA and Bering Sea groundfish and ecosystem surveys were cancelled or modified; some were conducted as planned. The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) implemented a variety of mitigation efforts to partially address the loss of data from cancelled surveys in 2020. Currently, for 2021 the AFSC plans to resume the normal schedule of surveys for the GOA including a two-vessel GOA trawl survey and GOA acoustictrawl survey. The stock assessment process is adaptable to the changes in availability of survey data, as many surveys are conducted periodically, rather than annually, and any changes relevant to the stock assessment process will be addressed in the final SAFE report. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 Potential Changes Between Proposed and Final Specifications In previous years, the most significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of fish) to the OFLs and ABCs from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys. These surveys provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and inform changes to the models used for producing stock assessments. At the September 2020 Plan Team meeting, NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results. Scientists also discussed potential changes to assessment models, and accompanying preliminary stock estimates. At the October 2020 Council meeting, the SSC reviewed this information. The species with potential for a significant model change is Pacific ocean perch. Model changes can result in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs. In November 2020, the Plan Team will consider updated survey results and updated stock assessments for groundfish, which will be included in the draft 2020 SAFE report. If the 2020 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications for that species may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the 2020 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications. The proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs and ABCs are based on the best available biological and scientific information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the tiers to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. The tiers applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information available to the fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs, with Tier 1 representing the highest level of information quality available and Tier 6 representing the lowest level of information quality available. The Plan Team used the FMP tier structure to calculate OFLs and ABCs for each groundfish species. The SSC adopted the proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The proposed PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 2021 and 2022 TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP’s TAC recommendations. Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs that are equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of pollock in the combined Western and Central Regulatory Areas and the West Yakutat (WYK) District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (the W/C/WYK Regulatory Area), Pacific cod, shallowwater flatfish in the Western Regulatory Area, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, and Atka mackerel. The W/C/ WYK Regulatory Area pollock TAC and the GOA Pacific cod TACs are set to account for the State of Alaska’s (State’s) guideline harvest levels (GHLs) for the State water pollock and Pacific cod fisheries so that the ABCs are not exceeded. Additionally, the proposed GOA Pacific cod TACs include a further reduction, which the Council recommended and NMFS implemented in the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, as an additional conservation measure due to the stock’s projected 2020 spawning biomass (discussed further below). The shallowwater flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these target species while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts in other fisheries. These reductions are described below. NMFS’s proposed apportionments of groundfish species are based on the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas over which NMFS manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on apportionments of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish are described below. The ABC for the pollock stock in the W/C/WYK Regulatory Area accounts for the GHL established by the State for the Prince William Sound (PWS) pollock fishery. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council have recommended that the sum of all State water and Federal water pollock removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. For 2021 and 2022, the Council recommended the W/C/WYK pollock ABC include the amount to account for the State’s PWS GHL. At the November 2018 Plan Team E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules meeting, State fisheries managers recommended setting the future PWS GHL at 2.5 percent of the annual W/C/ WYK pollock ABC. For 2021, this yields a PWS pollock GHL of 2,797 mt, an increase of 85 mt from the 2020 PWS GHL of 2,712 mt. After accounting for the PWS GHL, the 2021 and 2022 pollock ABC for the combined W/C/ WYK areas is then apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630, and 640) as both ABCs and TACs, as described below and detailed in Table 1. The total ABCs and TACs for the four statistical areas, plus the State GHL, do not exceed the combined W/C/ WYK ABC. The proposed W/C/WYK 2021 and 2022 pollock ABC is 111,888 mt, and the proposed TAC is 109,091 mt. Apportionments of pollock to the W/ C/WYK management areas are considered to be apportionments of annual catch limit (ACLs) rather than apportionments of ABCs. This more accurately reflects that such apportionments address management concerns, rather than biological or conservation concerns. In addition, apportionments of the ACL in this manner allow NMFS to balance any transfer of TAC among Areas 610, 620, and 630 pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the combined W/C/WYK ACL, ABC, and TAC are not exceeded. NMFS proposes pollock TACs in the Western Regulatory Area (Area 610), Central Regulatory Area (Areas 620 and 630), and the West Yakutat District (Area 640) and the Southeast Outside (SEO) District (Area 650) of the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630. These apportionments are divided equally among the following two seasons: The A season (January 20 through May 31) and the B season (September 1 through November 1) (§§ 679.23(d)(2)(i) and (ii), and 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail is provided below; Table 2 lists these amounts. The proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State’s GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in PWS (in the Eastern Regulatory Area) (see Table VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 1). The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State water and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the Council recommended the 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. Therefore, the proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs are less than the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 1,483 mt; (2) Central GOA, 2,115 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 305 mt. These amounts reflect the State’s 2021 and 2022 GHLs in these areas, which are 30 percent of the Western GOA proposed ABC, and 25 percent of the Eastern and Central GOA proposed ABCs. The proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs also incorporate an additional reduction (40 percent) from the proposed Pacific cod ABCs, after deduction of the State GHL amounts. This reduction was recommended by the Council and implemented by NMFS in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications after the 2019 SAFE indicated that the spawning biomass of Pacific cod would be below 20 percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass during 2020. At the December 2020 meeting, the Council will consider whether to recommend any reduction of the final Pacific cod TACs based on the most recent 2020 biological assessment on the stock condition for Pacific cod. NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionments of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. A portion of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hookand-line, pot, and jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl gear from January 20 through June 10. The remainder of the annual TAC is apportioned to the B season for jig gear from June 10 through December 31, for hook-and-line and pot gear from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 (§§ 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). The Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs are allocated among various gear and operational sectors. The Pacific cod sector apportionments are discussed in detail in a subsequent section and in Table 3 of this rule. In 2020, NMFS prohibited directed fishing for Pacific cod in the GOA, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(4). At that PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 78079 time, NMFS determined that the 2019 biological assessment of stock condition for Pacific cod in the GOA projected that the spawning biomass in the GOA would be below 20 percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass during 2020. Pursuant to § 679.20(d)(4), the directed fishery for Pacific cod in the GOA will remain closed until a subsequent biological assessment projects that the spawning biomass for Pacific cod in the GOA will exceed 20 percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass during a fishing year. At the November 2020 Plan Team and December 2020 SSC meetings, the Plan Team and SSC will review the Pacific cod stock assessment and evaluate the stock condition of Pacific cod to determine whether the directed fishery for Pacific cod in the GOA will remain closed pursuant to § 679.20(d)(4). The Council’s recommendation for sablefish area apportionments takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (§ 679.7(b)(1)) and makes available five percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area TACs to vessels using trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other trawl groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). Additional detail is provided below. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2021 and 2022 allocations of the sablefish TAC to fixed gear and trawl gear in the GOA. For 2021 and 2022, the Council recommends and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. These amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2019 SAFE report. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. The proposed TACs are adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations. The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 402,783 mt for 2021 and 2022, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. These proposed amounts and apportionments by area, season, and sector are subject to change pending consideration of the 2020 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications during its December 2020 meeting. E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78080 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICT OF THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area 1 Pollock 2 .......................................................... Shumagin (610) .............................................. Chirikof (620) .................................................. Kodiak (630) ................................................... WYK (640) ...................................................... W/C/WYK (subtotal) ....................................... SEO (650) ...................................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 149,988 13,531 19,775 56,159 27,429 5,728 111,888 10,148 19,775 56,159 27,429 5,728 109,091 10,148 Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 163,519 n/a n/a n/a 122,036 4,942 8,458 1,221 119,239 2,076 3,806 549 Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) ......................... 30,099 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 14,621 3,003 9,963 3,323 5,963 9,286 6,431 3,003 9,963 3,323 5,963 9,286 Total (Alaska-wide OFL) ............................. W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 64,765 n/a n/a n/a n/a 22,252 24,256 28,205 2,820 1,128 22,252 13,250 28,205 2,820 1,128 Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 69,129 n/a n/a n/a n/a 56,409 225 1,914 2,068 1,719 45,403 225 1,914 2,068 1,719 Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 7,040 n/a n/a n/a n/a 5,926 3,013 8,912 1,206 2,285 5,926 3,013 8,912 1,206 2,285 Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 18,779 n/a n/a n/a n/a 15,416 30,545 66,683 9,946 17,183 15,416 14,500 66,683 6,900 6,900 Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 148,597 n/a n/a n/a n/a 124,357 14,191 20,799 2,424 1,912 94,983 8,650 15,400 2,424 1,912 Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... W/C/WYK ....................................................... SEO ................................................................ 47,919 n/a n/a n/a 30,297 5,303 39,326 1,379 22,727 1,410 25,516 4,467 28,386 1,379 22,727 1,410 25,516 4,467 Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 35,600 n/a n/a n/a 29,983 1,079 3,027 1 29,983 1,079 3,027 - Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 4,898 n/a n/a n/a 4,107 52 284 372 4,106 52 284 372 Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... 944 n/a n/a 708 759 2,688 708 759 2,688 Pacific cod 3 .................................................... Sablefish 4 ....................................................... Shallow-water flatfish 5 .................................... Deep-water flatfish 6 ........................................ Rex sole .......................................................... Arrowtooth flounder ......................................... Flathead sole .................................................. Pacific ocean perch 7 ...................................... khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Northern rockfish 8 .......................................... Shortraker rockfish 9 ........................................ Dusky rockfish 10 ............................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 OFL Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM ABC 03DEP1 TAC 2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules 78081 TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICT OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish 11 .......... Demersal shelf rockfish 12 ............................... Thornyhead rockfish 13 .................................... Other rockfish 14 15 .......................................... Atka mackerel ................................................. Big skates 16 .................................................... Longnose skates 17 ......................................... khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Other skates 18 ................................................ Sharks ............................................................. Octopuses ....................................................... Total ......................................................... OFL TAC 2 ABC WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a 113 38 113 38 Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 4,396 n/a n/a n/a 3,598 169 455 587 3,598 169 455 587 Total ............................................................ SEO ................................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 1,455 375 n/a n/a n/a 1,211 238 326 911 779 1,211 238 326 911 779 Total ............................................................ W/C combined ................................................ WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 2,688 n/a n/a n/a 2,016 940 369 2,744 2,016 940 369 2,744 Total ............................................................ GW ................................................................. W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 5,320 6,200 n/a n/a n/a 4,053 4,700 758 1,560 890 4,053 3,000 758 1,560 890 Total ............................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 4,278 n/a n/a n/a 3,208 158 1,875 554 3,208 158 1,875 554 Total ............................................................ GW ................................................................. GW ................................................................. GW ................................................................. ......................................................................... 3,449 1,166 10,913 1,307 632,836 2,587 875 8,184 980 466,791 2,587 875 8,184 980 402,783 1 Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide). 2 The total for the W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas pollock ABC is 111,888 mt. After deducting 2.5 percent (2,797 mt) of that ABC for the State’s pollock GHL fishery, the remaining pollock ABC of 109,091 mt (for the W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas) is apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630, and 640). These apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes. The ACLs in Areas 610, 620, and 630 are further divided by season, as detailed in Table 2. In the West Yakutat (Area 640) and Southeast Outside (Area 650) Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3 The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned: (1) 63.84 percent to the A season and 36.16 percent to the B season and (2) 64.16 percent to the A season and 35.84 percent to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, respectively. The Pacific cod TAC in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA is allocated 90 percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component. Table 3 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments and sector allocations. 4 The Sablefish OFL is set Alaska-wide. Additionally, sablefish is allocated to fixed and trawl gear in 2021 and trawl gear in 2022. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2021 and 2022 allocations of sablefish TACs. 5 ‘‘Shallow-water flatfish’’ means flatfish not including ‘‘deep-water flatfish,’’ flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 6 ‘‘Deep-water flatfish’’ means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deepsea sole. 7 ‘‘Pacific ocean perch’’ means Sebastes alutus. 8 ‘‘Northern rockfish’’ means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 1 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern Regulatory Area has been included in the ‘‘other rockfish’’ species group. 9 ‘‘Shortraker rockfish’’ means Sebastes borealis. 10 ‘‘Dusky rockfish’’ means Sebastes variabilis. 11 ‘‘Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish’’ means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 12 ‘‘Demersal shelf rockfish’’ means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper), S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye). 13 ‘‘Thornyhead rockfish’’ means Sebastes species. 14 ‘‘Other rockfish means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, ‘‘other rockfish’’ also includes northern rockfish (S. polyspinous). 15 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District of the Eastern Regulatory Area means all rockfish species included in the ‘‘other rockfish’’ and demersal shelf rockfish categories. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ species group in the SEO District only includes other rockfish. 16 ‘‘Big skates’’ means Raja binoculata. 17 ‘‘Longnose skates’’ means Raja rhina. 18 ‘‘Other skates’’ means Bathyraja and Raja spp. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78082 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules Proposed Apportionment of Reserves Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sharks, and octopuses in reserve for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing year. Section 679.20(b)(3) authorizes NMFS to reapportion all or part of these reserves. In 2020, NMFS reapportioned all of the reserves in the final harvest specifications. For 2021 and 2022, NMFS proposes reapportionment of each of the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sharks, and octopuses back into the original TAC from which the reserve was derived. NMFS expects, based on recent harvest patterns, that such reserves will not be necessary and that the entire TAC for each of these species will be caught. The TACs in Table 1 reflect this proposed reapportionment of reserve amounts to the original TAC for these species and species groups, i.e., each proposed TAC for the above-mentioned species or species groups contains the full TAC recommended by the Council. Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore Components In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned into two seasonal allowances of 50 percent. As 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. This is a change from 2020 and prior years, when there were four specified pollock seasons of equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As described earlier in the preamble, the regulatory revisions implemented by Amendment 109 to the FMP (85 FR 38093, June 25, 2020) decreased the number of seasons to two and established two equal seasonal allowances of 50 percent. NMFS is incorporating these regulatory revisions (which are effective January 1, 2021) into the harvest specifications for the GOA, and Table 2, below, reflects the revised seasons and seasonal allocations implemented by Amendment 109 to the FMP. The GOA pollock stock assessment continues to use a four-season methodology to determine pollock distribution in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA to maintain continuity in the historical pollock apportionment time-series. Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630 in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass determined by the most recent NMFS surveys, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). The pollock chapter of the 2019 SAFE report (see ADDRESSES) contains a comprehensive description of the apportionment and reasons for the minor changes from past apportionments. For purposes of specifying pollock between two seasons for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, NMFS has summed the A and B season apportionments and the C and D season apportionments as calculated in the 2019 GOA pollock assessment. This yields the seasonal amounts specified for the A season and the B season, respectively. Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the Regional Administrator (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount is limited to 20 percent of the subsequent seasonal TAC apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20percent limit could be further distributed to the subsequent season in the other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass to the subsequent season and in an amount no more than 20 percent of the seasonal TAC apportionment in those statistical areas (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2021 and 2022 pollock TACs in the WYK District of 5,728 mt and the SEO District of 10,148 mt are not allocated by season. Table 2 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 area apportionments and seasonal allowances of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown. Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires allocation of 100 percent of the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after subtraction of amounts projected by the Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore component is the amount that will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed by § 679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined during the 2021 fishing year during the course of fishing activities by the offshore component. TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN 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) khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 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 amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 3 The West Yakutat 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS proposes allocations for the 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. NMFS also proposes allocating the 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs annually between the inshore (90 percent) and offshore (10 percent) components in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA (§ 679.20(a)(6)(ii)). In the Central GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among CVs less than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, catcher/ processors (CPs) using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, CPs using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i)(B)). In the Western GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among CVs using hook-and-line gear, CPs using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, CPs using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A)). The overall seasonal apportionments of the annual TAC in the Western GOA are 63.84 percent to the A season and 36.16 percent to the B season, and in the Central GOA are 64.16 percent to the A season and 35.84 percent to the B season. Under § 679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the Pacific cod allowance from the A season may be subtracted from, or added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that is determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be reallocated to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the fishing year. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be allocated to vessels with a Federal fisheries permit that use jig gear before the TACs are apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and 78083 Central GOA Pacific cod TACs, depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (see Table 1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). Jig sector allocation increases are established for a minimum of two years. NMFS has evaluated the historical harvest performance of the jig sector in the Western and Central GOA, and proposes 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod apportionments to this sector based on its historical harvest performance through 2019. For 2021 and 2022, NMFS proposes that the jig sector receive 3.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.5 percent and an additional performance increase of 2.0 percent. NMFS also proposes that the jig sector receive 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.0 percent and no additional performance increase. The 2014 through 2019 Pacific cod jig allocations, catch, and percent allocation changes are listed in Figure 1. FIGURE 1—SUMMARY OF WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA PACIFIC COD CATCH BY JIG GEAR IN 2014 THROUGH 2019, AND CORRESPONDING PERCENT ALLOCATION CHANGES Area Western GOA ...... Central GOA ........ khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Initial percent of TAC Year 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2.5 3.5 3.5 2.5 1.5 2.5 2.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 For 2021 and 2022, NMFS proposes apportioning the jig sector allocations for the Western and Central GOA between the A season (60 percent) and the B season (40 percent). This is the same jig sector seasonal apportionments implemented in prior groundfish harvest specifications for the GOA and is consistent with Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 FR 44700; July 26, 2011). NMFS will not evaluate the 2020 performance of the jig sectors in the Western and Central GOA: Since NMFS prohibited directed fishing for all Pacific cod sectors in 2020, the catch for the jig sectors will not reach 90 percent of the initial allocation required for a performance increase (84 FR 70438, VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 Initial TAC allocation Percent of initial allocation Catch (mt) 573 948 992 635 125 134 797 460 370 331 61 58 785 55 52 49 121 134 262 355 267 18 0 30 December 23, 2019). As discussed earlier in this preamble, the directed fishing prohibition was issued pursuant to § 679.20(d)(4) and required because the 2019 biological assessment of stock condition for Pacific cod in the GOA projected that the spawning biomass in the GOA would be below 20 percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass during 2020. As discussed earlier in this preamble, NMFS published a final rule (85 FR 38093, June 25, 2020) to implement Amendment 109 to the FMP. With respect to Pacific cod, Amendment 109 revised the Pacific cod TAC seasonal apportionments to the trawl CV sector by increasing the A season allocation PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 >90% of initial allocation? 137 6 5 8 97 100 33 77 72 6 0 52 Y N N N Y Y N N N N N N Change to percent allocation Increase 1%. None. Decrease 1%. Decrease 1%. Increase 1%. Increase 1%. Decrease 1%. None. None. None. None. None. and decreasing the B season allocation, with the intent of decreasing the annual underharvest of Pacific cod by this sector. NMFS is incorporating the revised 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 has increased to 31.54 percent and 25.29 percent in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, respectively. The B season apportionment for trawl CVs has decreased to 6.86 percent and 16.29 percent in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, respectively. The seasonal allowances of E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78084 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules the trawl CV sector’s annual TAC limit in the Western and Central Regulatory Area of the GOA are revised to reflect the revised seasonal apportionments. Table 3 lists these revisions in the trawl CV seasonal apportionments and sets forth the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs. TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATIONS 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) 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) Western GOA: Jig (3.5% of TAC) ......................................................... Hook-and-line CV ......................................................... Hook-and-line CP ......................................................... Trawl CV ....................................................................... Trawl CP ....................................................................... Pot CV and Pot CP ...................................................... 73 28 397 769 48 761 N/A 0.70 10.90 31.54 0.90 19.80 44 14 218 632 18 397 N/A 0.70 8.90 6.86 1.50 18.20 29 14 178 137 30 365 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 CP ......................................................... Trawl CV 1 ..................................................................... Trawl CP ....................................................................... Pot CV and Pot CP ...................................................... 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 ........................................................................ ........................ Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 494 55 549 1 Trawl khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 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 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679). Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TAC Amounts to Vessels Using Fixed Gear and Trawl Gear Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) requires allocations of sablefish TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to fixed and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each TAC is allocated to fixed gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is allocated to fixed gear, and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern Regulatory Area may be used only to support incidental catch of sablefish while directed fishing for other target species using trawl gear (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes specifying for incidental catch the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 Eastern Regulatory Area. The remainder of the WYK District sablefish TAC is allocated to vessels using fixed gear. This proposed action allocates 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using fixed gear. This results in a proposed 2021 allocation of 464 mt to trawl gear and 2,859 mt to fixed gear in the WYK District, a proposed 2022 allocation of 5,963 mt to fixed gear in the SEO District, and a proposed 2022 allocation of 464 mt to trawl gear in the WYK District. Table 4 lists the allocations of the proposed 2021 sablefish TACs to fixed and trawl gear. Table 5 lists the allocations of the proposed 2022 sablefish TACs to trawl gear. The Council recommended that the trawl sablefish TAC be established for two years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish harvest specifications. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2021 and 2022 trawl allocations, respectively. PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 The Council also recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be established annually to ensure that the sablefish IFQ fishery is conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on the most recent survey information. Since there is an annual assessment for sablefish and since the final harvest specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season begins (typically, in early March), the Council recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be set annually, rather than for 2 years, so that the best available scientific information could be considered in establishing the sablefish ABCs and TACs. Accordingly, Table 4 lists the proposed 2021 fixed gear allocations, and the 2022 fixed gear allocations will be specified in the 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications. With the exception of the trawl allocations that are provided to the Rockfish Program (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), directed fishing for sablefish with trawl gear is closed during the fishing year. Also, fishing for E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78085 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 20 (§ 679.23(c)). Therefore, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the effective date of the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications. TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2021 SABLEFISH TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATIONS TO FIXED AND TRAWL GEAR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district Fixed gear allocation TAC Trawl allocation Western ........................................................................................................................................ Central 1 ....................................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 2 ............................................................................................................................. Southeast Outside ....................................................................................................................... 3,003 9,963 3,323 5,963 2,402 7,970 2,859 5,963 601 1,993 464 0 Total ...................................................................................................................................... 22,252 19,195 3,058 1 The trawl allocation of sablefish to the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (1,025 mt). See Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 968 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries. 2 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2022 SABLEFISH TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATION TO TRAWL GEAR 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district Fixed gear allocation TAC Trawl allocation Western ........................................................................................................................................ Central 2 ....................................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 3 ............................................................................................................................. Southeast Outside ....................................................................................................................... 3,003 9,963 3,323 5,963 n/a n/a n/a n/a 601 1,993 464 0 Total ...................................................................................................................................... 22,252 n/a 3,058 1 The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the fixed gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year. trawl allocation of sablefish to the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (1,025 mt). See Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 968 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries. 3 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 2 The Proposed Allocations, Apportionments, and Sideboard Limitations for the Rockfish Program These proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications for the GOA include the fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations established by the Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily trawl CVs and trawl CPs, with limited participation by vessels using longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative quota to trawl participants for primary species (Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) and secondary species (Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish), allows a participant holding a license limitation program (LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative with other persons, and allows holders of CP LLP licenses to opt out of the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear. Longline gear VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear. Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species in the Central GOA are allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch needs in other directed fisheries (§ 679.81(a)(2)). Participants in the Rockfish Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of specific secondary species. In addition to groundfish species, the Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the halibut PSC limit (191 mt) from the third season deep-water species fishery allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants (§ 679.81(d) and Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679). The Rockfish Program also establishes sideboard limits to restrict the ability of harvesters operating under the Rockfish Program to increase their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program fisheries. These restrictions and halibut PSC limits are discussed in a subsequent section in this rule titled ‘‘Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations.’’ PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) and Table 28e to 50 CFR part 679 require allocations of 5 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 50 mt of dusky rockfish to the entry level longline fishery in 2021 and 2022. The allocation for the entry level longline fishery may increase incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation would continue each year until it reaches the maximum percentage of the TAC for that species. In 2020, the catch for all three primary species did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. Therefore, NMFS is not proposing any increases to the entry level longline fishery 2021 and 2022 allocations in the Central GOA. The remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary species, after subtracting the incidental catch amounts (ICAs), would be allocated to the CV and CP cooperatives (§ 679.81(a)(2)(iii)). Table 6 lists the allocations of the proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs for each rockfish primary species to the entry level E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78086 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules longline fishery, the potential incremental increases for future years, and the maximum percentages of the TACs for the entry level longline fishery. TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA Proposed 2021 and 2022 allocations [metric tons] Rockfish primary species Pacific ocean perch ..................................................................................................................... Northern rockfish ......................................................................................................................... Dusky rockfish ............................................................................................................................. Section 679.81 requires allocations of rockfish primary species among various sectors of the Rockfish Program. Table 7 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 allocations of rockfish primary species in the Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery, and rockfish CV and CP cooperatives in the Rockfish Program. NMFS also proposes setting aside incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the Central GOA of 3,000 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 300 mt of northern rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These amounts are based on recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other groundfish fisheries. Allocations among vessels belonging to CV or CP cooperatives are not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program applications for CV cooperatives and CP cooperatives are not due to NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year; 5 5 50 Incremental increase in 2022 if >90 percent of 2021 allocation is harvested [metric tons] Up to maximum percent of each TAC of: 5 5 20 1 2 5 therefore, NMFS cannot calculate 2021 and 2022 allocations in conjunction with these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2021 allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheriesmanagement-reports#central-goarockfish when they become available after March 1. TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY AND ROCKFISH COOPERATIVES IN THE ROCKFISH PROGRAM [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Incidental catch allowance (ICA) Central GOA TAC Rockfish primary species TAC minus ICA Allocation to the entry level longline 1 fishery Allocation to the rockfish cooperatives 2 Pacific ocean perch ............................................................. Northern rockfish .................................................................. Dusky rockfish ...................................................................... 22,727 3,027 2,688 3,000 300 250 19,727 2,727 2,438 5 5 50 19,722 2,722 2,388 Total .............................................................................. 28,442 3,550 24,892 60 24,832 1 Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (§ 679.2). 2 Rockfish cooperatives include vessels in CV and CP cooperatives (§ 679.81). Section 679.81(c) and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679 requires allocations of rockfish secondary species to CV and CP cooperatives in the Central GOA. CV cooperatives receive allocations of Pacific cod, sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. CP cooperatives receive allocations of sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, rougheye and blackspotted rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Table 8 lists the apportionments of the proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the Central GOA to CV and CP cooperatives. TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 APPORTIONMENTS OF ROCKFISH SECONDARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GOA TO CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR COOPERATIVES khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS [Values are in metric tons] Catcher vessel cooperatives Central GOA annual TAC Rockfish secondary species Pacific cod ............................................................................ Sablefish .............................................................................. Shortraker rockfish ............................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00041 Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) 3.81 6.78 0.0 145 675 0 0.0 3.51 40.00 0 350 114 3,806 9,963 284 Fmt 4702 Catcher/processor cooperatives Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules 78087 TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 APPORTIONMENTS OF ROCKFISH SECONDARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GOA TO CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR COOPERATIVES—Continued [Values are in metric tons] Catcher vessel cooperatives Central GOA annual TAC Rockfish secondary species Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish ................................... Thornyhead rockfish ............................................................ khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Halibut PSC Limits Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October 2020, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, halibut PSC limits of 1,706 mt for trawl gear, 257 mt for hookand-line gear, and 9 mt for the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District for both 2021 and 2022. The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at § 679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish (§ 679.21(d)(2)(i)(A)). The separate halibut PSC limit for the DSR fishery is intended to prevent that fishery from being impacted from the halibut PSC incurred by other GOA fisheries. NMFS estimates low halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) the duration of the DSR fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) the DSR fishery occurs in the winter when there is less overlap in the distribution of DSR and halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR fishery has a low DSR TAC. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the commercial GHL for the DSR fishery after deducting (1) estimates of DSR incidental catch in all fisheries (including halibut and subsistence); and (2) the allocation to the DSR sport fish fishery. In 2020, the commercial fishery for DSR was closed due to concerns about declining DSR biomass. The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) 0.0 7.84 0 71 58.87 26.50 268 241 455 911 2021 and 2022. The Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, these exemptions because (1) pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch mortality; (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the vessel is operating (§ 679.7(f)(11)); (3) some sablefish IFQ permit holders hold halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain the halibut they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ; and (4) NMFS estimates negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries given the small amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective nature of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released with jig gear. The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2020. The calculated halibut bycatch mortality through October 24, 2020 is 756 mt for trawl gear and 2 mt for hook-and-line gear, for a total halibut mortality of 758 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using groundfish and IFQ halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region’s catch accounting system. This accounting system contains historical and recent catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish and IFQ halibut fishery. Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: (1) Seasonal distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Catcher/processor cooperatives Sfmt 4702 distribution of target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution, (3) expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. Based on public comment, information presented in the 2019 SAFE report, NMFS catch data, State catch data, or International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) stock assessment and mortality data, the Council may recommend or NMFS may make changes to the seasonal, gear-type, or fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC limits for the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications pursuant to § 679.21(d)(1) and (d)(4). The final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020) summarized the Council’s and NMFS’s findings for these FMP and regulatory considerations with respect to halibut PSC limits. The Council’s and NMFS’s proposed findings for these proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications are unchanged from the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. Table 9 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. The halibut PSC limits in these tables reflect the halibut PSC limits set forth at § 679.21(d)(2) and (3). Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specifies that any underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a halibut PSC limit will be added to or deducted from the next respective seasonal apportionment within the fishing year. E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78088 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS, ALLOWANCES, AND APPORTIONMENTS [Values are in metric tons] Hook-and-line gear 1 Trawl gear Other than DSR Season Percent DSR Amount Season Percent Amount January 20–April 1 .............. 30.5 519 January 1–June 10 ............ 86 221 April 1–July 1 ...................... July 1–August 1 .................. August 1–October 1 ............ October 1–December 31 .... 20 27 7.5 15 341 462 128 256 June 10–September 1 ........ September 1–December 31 2 12 5 31 Total ............................. ................ 1,706 ............................................. ................ 257 Season Amount January 1–December 31. 9 .................................... 9 1 The Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District and to hook-and-line fisheries other than the DSR fishery. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes that the hook-and-line sablefish fishery, and the pot and jig gear groundfish fisheries, be exempt from halibut PSC limits. Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the trawl halibut PSC limit as bycatch allowances to trawl fishery categories listed in § 679.21(d)(3)(iii). The annual apportionments are based on each category’s share of the anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during a fishing year and optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC limits are (1) a deep-water species fishery, composed of sablefish, rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and (2) a shallowwater species fishery, composed of pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, skates, and ‘‘other species’’ (sharks and octopuses) (§ 679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Halibut mortality incurred while directed fishing for skates with trawl gear accrues towards the shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC limit (69 FR 26320, May 12, 2004). NMFS will combine available trawl halibut PSC limit apportionments in part of the second season deep-water and shallow-water species fisheries for use in either fishery from May 15 through June 30 (§ 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(D)). This is intended to maintain groundfish harvest while minimizing halibut bycatch by these sectors to the extent practicable. This provides the trawl gear deep-water and shallow-water species fisheries additional flexibility and the incentive to participate in fisheries at times of the year that may have lower halibut PSC rates relative to other times of the year. Table 10 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 seasonal apportionments of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl gear deep-water and the shallow-water species fisheries. Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and CP sectors that are participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to the CP sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water species fishery’s halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment. After the combined CV and CP halibut PSC limit allocation of 191 mt to the Rockfish Program, 150 mt remains for the trawl deep-water species fishery’s halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment. Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC limit allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be reapportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries for the last seasonal apportionment during the current fishing year to no more than 55 percent of the unused annual halibut PSC limit apportioned to Rockfish Program participants. The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use by any person for the remainder of the fishing year (§ 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(C)). TABLE 10—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 APPORTIONMENT OF THE PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS BETWEEN THE TRAWL GEAR SHALLOW-WATER AND DEEP-WATER SPECIES FISHERY CATEGORIES khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS [Values are in metric tons] Season Shallow-water Deep-water 1 January 20–April 1 ....................................................................................................................... April 1–July 1 ............................................................................................................................... July 1–August 1 ........................................................................................................................... August 1–October 1 ..................................................................................................................... Subtotal, January 20–October 1 .................................................................................................. October 1–December 31 2 ........................................................................................................... 384 85 121 53 643 ........................ 135 256 341 75 807 ........................ 519 341 462 128 1,450 256 Total ...................................................................................................................................... ........................ ........................ 1,706 1 Vessels Total participating in cooperatives in the Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July 1 through August 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment. 2 There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries during the fifth season (October 1 through December 31). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules Section 679.21(d)(2)(i)(B) requires that the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC limit apportionment to vessels using hook-and-line gear must be apportioned between CVs and CPs in accordance with § 679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these harvest specifications. A comprehensive description and example of the calculations necessary to apportion the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and CP sectors were included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and are not repeated here. Pursuant to § 679.21(d)(2)(iii), the hook-and-line halibut PSC limit for the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ is apportioned between the CV and CP sectors in proportion to the total Western and Central GOA Pacific cod allocations, which vary annually based on the proportion of the Pacific cod biomass between the Western, Central, and Eastern GOA. Pacific cod is apportioned among these three management areas based on the percentage of overall biomass per area, as calculated in the 2019 Pacific cod stock assessment. Updated information in the final 2019 SAFE report describes this distributional calculation, which allocates ABC among GOA regulatory areas on the basis of the three most recent stock surveys. For 2021 and 2022, the distribution of the total GOA Pacific cod ABC is 32 percent to the Western GOA, 59 percent to the Central GOA, and 9 percent to the Eastern GOA. Therefore, the calculations made in accordance with § 679.21(d)(2)(iii) incorporate the most recent information on GOA Pacific cod distribution with respect to establishing the annual halibut PSC limits for the CV and CP hook-and-line sectors. Additionally, the annual halibut PSC limits for both the CV and CP sectors of the ‘‘other hookand-line fishery’’ are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal 78089 percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. For 2021 and 2022, NMFS proposes annual halibut PSC limits of 144 mt and 113 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line CP sectors, respectively. Table 11 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 apportionments of halibut PSC limits between the hook-and-line CV and the hook-and-line CP sectors of the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery.’’ No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS will calculate the projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the CV or CP hook-and-line sectors of the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ for the remainder of the year. The projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit is made available to the other hook-and-line sector for the remainder of that fishing year (§ 679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)), if NMFS determines that an additional amount of halibut PSC is necessary for that sector to continue its directed fishing operations. TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 APPORTIONMENTS OF THE ‘‘OTHER HOOK-AND-LINE FISHERIES’’ ANNUAL HALIBUT PSC ALLOWANCE BETWEEN THE HOOK-AND-LINE GEAR CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTORS khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS [Values are in metric tons] Sector annual amount ‘‘Other than DSR’’ allowance Hook-and-line sector 257 ......................................... Catcher Vessel ..................... 144 Catcher/Processor ................ 113 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery’s halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental catch rates are based on observers’ estimates of halibut incidental catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific information available in conjunction with the annual GOA stock assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 January 1–June 10 ............... June 10–September 1 .......... September 1–December 31 January 1–June 10 ............... June 10–September 1 .......... September 1–December 31 the annual GOA groundfish SAFE report. In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the Council’s directive. An interagency halibut working group (IPHC, Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the Plan Team, the SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology is contained in the GOA proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87881, December 6, 2016), and the comprehensive discussion of the working group’s statistical methodology is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR working group’s revised methodology is intended to improve estimation accuracy, transparency, and transferability for calculating DMRs. The working group will continue to consider improvements to the methodology used to calculate halibut mortality, including potential changes to the reference period (the period of PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Seasonal percentage Season Sfmt 4702 86 2 12 86 2 12 Sector seasonal amount 124 3 17 97 2 14 data used for calculating the DMRs). Future DMRs may change based on additional years of observer sampling, which could provide more recent and accurate data and which could improve the accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The methodology will continue to ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more accurately reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different sectors of their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors to respond with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, the DMR for that sector. In October 2020, the Council recommended halibut DMRs derived from the revised methodology for the proposed 2021 and 2022 DMRs. The proposed 2021 and 2022 DMRs use an updated two-year reference period. Comparing the proposed 2021 and 2022 DMRs to the final DMRs from the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, the proposed DMR for Rockfish Program CVs using non-pelagic trawl gear E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78090 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules increased to 60 percent from 52 percent, the proposed DMR for non-Rockfish Program C/Vs using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 69 percent from 68 percent, the proposed DMR for CPs and proposed DMR for CPs and CVs using pot gear increased to 10 percent from 0 percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 DMRs. motherships using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 84 percent from 75 percent, the proposed DMR for CPs using hook-and-line gear increased to 15 percent from 11 percent, and the TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR VESSELS FISHING IN THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead] Gear Sector Groundfish fishery Pelagic trawl ............................ Catcher vessel ......................................................................... Catcher/processor .................................................................... Catcher vessel ......................................................................... Catcher vessel ......................................................................... Mothership and catcher/processor ........................................... Catcher/processor .................................................................... Catcher vessel ......................................................................... Catcher vessel and catcher/processor .................................... All ............................................ All ............................................ Rockfish Program ................... All others ................................. All ............................................ All ............................................ All ............................................ All ............................................ Non-pelagic trawl ..................... Hook-and-line .......................... Pot ........................................... khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limits Section 679.21(h)(2) establishes separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and Central regulatory areas of the GOA in the trawl pollock directed fishery. These limits require that NMFS close directed fishing for pollock in the Western and Central GOA if the applicable Chinook salmon PSC limit is reached (§ 679.21(h)(8)). The annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the trawl pollock directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the Central GOA are set in § 679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii). Section 679.21(h)(3) established an initial annual PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock groundfish trawl fisheries in the Western and Central GOA. This limit is apportioned among three sectors directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock: 3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl CPs; 1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs participating in the Rockfish Program; and 2,700 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program (§ 679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will monitor the Chinook salmon PSC in the trawl non-pollock GOA groundfish fisheries and close an applicable sector if it reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit. The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl CPs and trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program, may be increased in subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook salmon PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limit its use of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 Chinook salmon PSC to a certain threshold amount in 2020 (3,120 for trawl CPs and 2,340 for non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs), that sector will receive an increase to its 2021 Chinook salmon PSC limit (4,080 for trawl CPs and 3,060 for non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs) (§ 679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will evaluate the annual Chinook salmon PSC by trawl CPs and non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs when the 2020 fishing year is complete to determine whether to increase the Chinook salmon PSC limits for these two sectors. Based on preliminary 2020 Chinook salmon PSC data, the trawl CP sector may receive an incremental increase of Chinook salmon PSC limit in 2021, and the non-Rockfish Program trawl CV sector may receive an incremental increase of Chinook salmon PSC limit in 2021. This evaluation will be completed in conjunction with the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications. American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/ Processor and Catcher Vessel Groundfish Harvest and PSC Limits Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing sideboard limits on AFA CPs and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA CPs and CPs designated on a listed AFA CP permit from harvesting any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, § 679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA CPs and CPs PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Halibut discard mortality rate (percent) 100 100 60 69 84 15 13 10 designated on a listed AFA CP permit from processing any pollock harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. AFA CVs that are less than 125 feet (38.1 meters) length overall, have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA groundfish from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA CV groundfish sideboard limits under § 679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 679.64(b)(3)(iv) establishes the CV groundfish sideboard limits in the GOA based on the aggregate retained catch by non-exempt AFA CVs of each sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that species over the same period. NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA CVs from directed fishing for specific groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits (§ 679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 56 to 50 CFR part 679). Sideboard limits not subject to the final rule continue to be calculated and included in the GOA annual harvest specifications. Table 13 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 groundfish sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from the sideboard limits listed in Table 13. E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules 78091 TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Apportionments by season/gear Area/component Pollock ....................... A Season; January 20–May 31 .................... Shumagin (610) ........ Chirikof (620) ............ Kodiak (630) ............. Shumagin (610) ........ Chirikof (620) ............ Kodiak (630) ............. WYK (640) ................ SEO (650) ................. W ............................... C ............................... W ............................... C ............................... W ............................... C ............................... C ............................... E ................................ C ............................... C ............................... C ............................... C ............................... E ................................ C ............................... B Season; September 1–November 1 ......... Annual .......................................................... Pacific cod ................. A Season 1; January 1–June 10 .................. B Season 2; September 1–December 31 ..... Flatfish, shallow-water Annual .......................................................... Flatfish, deep-water ... Annual .......................................................... Rex sole .................... Arrowtooth flounder ... Flathead sole ............. Pacific ocean perch ... Annual Annual Annual Annual Northern rockfish ....... Annual .......................................................... .......................................................... .......................................................... .......................................................... .......................................................... Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.3495 0.3495 0.1331 0.0692 0.1331 0.0692 0.0156 0.0587 0.0647 0.0128 0.0384 0.0280 0.0213 0.0748 0.0466 0.0277 Proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs 3 1,067 42,260 8,354 18,708 13,899 19,074 5,728 10,148 1,323 2,440 753 1,366 13,250 28,205 1,914 3,787 8,912 66,683 15,400 22,727 5,877 3,027 Proposed 2021 and 2022 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 645 4,932 1,694 11,313 1,622 3,868 2,002 3,547 176 169 100 95 207 1,656 124 48 342 1,867 328 1,700 274 84 1 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. 2 The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. 3 The Western and Central GOA and WYK District area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs. Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 (§ 679.64(b)(4)(ii)). Table 14 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 non-exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 NON-EXEMPT AFA CV HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR VESSELS USING TRAWL GEAR IN THE GOA khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Ratio of 1995– 1997 nonexempt AFA CV retained catch to total retained catch Proposed 2021 and 2022 PSC limit Proposed 2021 and 2022 nonexempt AFA CV PSC limit Season Season dates Fishery category 1 .......................... January 20–April 1 ......................... 2 .......................... April 1–July 1 ................................. 3 .......................... July 1–August 1 ............................. 4 .......................... August 1–October 1 ....................... 5 .......................... October 1–December 31 ............... shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... all targets ....................................... 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.205 384 135 85 256 121 341 53 75 256 131 9 29 18 41 24 18 5 52 Total shallow-water ........................ ........................ ........................ 219 Total deep-water ............................ ........................ ........................ 56 1,706 328 Annual ........................................................ ........................................................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00046 Grand Total, all seasons and categories Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78092 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Limitations Section 680.22 establishes groundfish sideboard limits for vessels with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by the Crab Rationalization (CR) Program to expand their level of participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard harvest limits restrict these vessels’ catch to their collective historical landings in each GOA groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). Sideboard limits also apply to landings made using an LLP license derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP license is used on another vessel. The basis for these sideboard harvest limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the CR Program, including Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/ Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP (76 FR 35772, June 20, 2011), Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), and Amendment 45 to the Crab FMP (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015). Also, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-AFA crab vessels from directed fishing for all groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits, except for Pacific cod apportioned to CVs using pot gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas (§ 680.22(e)(1)(iii)). Accordingly, the GOA annual harvest specifications will include only the nonAFA crab vessel groundfish sideboard limits for Pacific cod apportioned to CVs using pot gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Table 15 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 groundfish sideboard limits for non-AFA crab vessel. All targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits. TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear Area/component/ gear Pacific cod ............................. A Season; January 1–June 10. B Season; September 1–December 31. Western Pot CV .................... Central Pot CV ..................... Western Pot CV .................... Central Pot CV ..................... Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, CP rockfish sideboard restrictions, and CP opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions (§ 679.82(c)(1)). These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of rockfish harvesters to expand into other fisheries. CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and northern rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(d)). CPs participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These CPs are prohibited from directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and northern rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(e)(2)). Holders of CP-designated LLP licenses that opt out of participating in a Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest 0.0997 0.0474 0.0997 0.0474 Proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs Proposed 2021 and 2022 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit 1,323 2,440 753 1,366 132 116 75 65 Rockfish Program cooperative will be able to access that portion of each rockfish sideboard limits that is not assigned to Rockfish Program cooperatives (§ 679.82(e)(7)). The sideboard ratio for each rockfish fishery in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District is set forth in § 679.82(e)(4). Table 16 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 Rockfish Program CP rockfish sideboard limits in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District are not displayed. TABLE 16—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 ROCKFISH PROGRAM SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE WESTERN GOA AND WEST YAKUTAT DISTRICT BY FISHERY FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR (CP) SECTOR khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area Fishery CP sector (% of TAC) Western GOA ......................... Dusky rockfish ....................... Pacific ocean perch ............... Northern rockfish ................... Dusky rockfish ....................... Pacific ocean perch ............... 72.3 ........................................ 50.6 ........................................ 74.3 ........................................ Confidential 1 .......................... Confidential 1 .......................... West Yakutat District .............. 1 Not Proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs 759 1,379 1,079 113 1,410 Proposed 2021 and 2022 CP sideboard limit 549 698 802 Confidential 1 Confidential 1 released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS and the State of Alaska. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78093 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules Under the Rockfish Program, the CP sector is subject to halibut PSC sideboard limits for the trawl deepwater and shallow-water species fisheries from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(e)(3) and (e)(5)). Halibut PSC sideboard ratios by fishery are set forth in § 679.82(e)(5). No halibut PSC sideboard limits apply to the CV sector, as vessels participating in a rockfish cooperative receive a portion of the annual halibut PSC limit. CPs that opt out of the Rockfish Program would be able to access that portion of the deepwater and shallow-water halibut PSC sideboard limit not assigned to CP rockfish cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for CPs that elect to opt out of participating in a rockfish cooperative are described in § 679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are linked to the catch history of specific vessels that may choose to opt out. After March 1, NMFS will determine which CPs have optedout of the Rockfish Program in 2021, and will know the ratios and amounts used to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any applicable opt-out sideboard limits for 2021 and post these limits on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheriesmanagement-reports#central-goarockfish. Table 17 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 Rockfish Program halibut PSC sideboard limits for the CP sector. TABLE 17—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE CATCHER/ PROCESSOR SECTOR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Sector Shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Deep-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Annual halibut PSC limit (mt) Annual shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) Annual deep-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) 0.10 2.50 1,706 2 43 Catcher/processor ................................................................ Amendment 80 Program Groundfish and PSC Sideboard Limits Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl CP sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 Program to expand their harvest efforts in the GOA. Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, to amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to 50 CFR part 679. Under § 679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA. Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 1998 through 2004 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 18 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program vessels from the sideboard limits in Table 18. TABLE 18—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season Area Pollock .............................................. A Season; January 20–May 31 ................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... WYK ..................................... W .......................................... WYK ..................................... W .......................................... W .......................................... WYK ..................................... B Season; September 1–November 1 ........ Pacific cod ........................................ Annual .......................................................... A Season 1; January 1–June 10 .................. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS B Season 2; September 1–December 31 .... Pacific ocean perch ......................... Annual .......................................................... Annual .......................................................... Northern rockfish .............................. Dusky rockfish .................................. Annual .......................................................... Annual .......................................................... 1 The 2 The Ratio of amendment 80 sector vessels 1998–2004 catch to TAC 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.002 0.020 0.044 0.020 0.044 0.034 0.994 0.961 1.000 0.764 0.896 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Proposed 2021 and 2022 TAC (mt) 1,067 42,260 8,354 18,708 13,899 19,074 5,728 1,323 2,440 753 1,366 549 1,379 1,410 1,079 759 113 Proposed 2021 and 2022 Amendment 80 vessel sideboard limits (mt) 3 85 17 56 28 38 11 26 107 15 60 19 1,371 1,355 1,079 580 101 78094 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels in the GOA are based on the historical use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. These values are slightly lower than the average historical use to accommodate two factors: allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota under the Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden Fleece from this restriction (§ 679.92(b)(2)). Table 19 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. These tables incorporate the maximum percentages of the halibut PSC sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 Program vessels as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679. Any residual amount of a seasonal Amendment 80 halibut PSC sideboard limit may carry forward to the next season limit (§ 679.92(b)(2)). TABLE 19—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS IN THE GOA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Historic Amendment 80 use of the annual halibut PSC limit (ratio) Season Season dates Fishery category 1 .......................... January 20 –April 1 ........................ 2 .......................... April 1–July 1 ................................. 3 .......................... July 1–August 1 ............................. 4 .......................... August 1–October 1 ....................... 5 .......................... October 1–December 31 ............... shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... 0.0048 0.0115 0.0189 0.1072 0.0146 0.0521 0.0074 0.0014 0.0227 0.0371 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 8 20 32 183 25 89 13 2 39 63 Total shallow-water ........................ ........................ ........................ 117 Total deep-water ............................ ........................ ........................ 357 Annual Grand Total, all seasons and categories Classification khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed 2021 and 2022 annual PSC limit (mt) Proposed 2021 and 2022 Amendment 80 vessel PSC sideboard limit (mt) NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment. This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. NMFS prepared an EIS for the Alaska groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies (see ADDRESSES) and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the ROD for the Final EIS. A SIR is being prepared for the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications to provide a subsequent assessment of the action and to address the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (40 CFR 1501.11(b); § 1502.9(d)(1)). Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and annual SIRs for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental, social, and economic consequences of the proposed VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:31 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on resources in the action area. Based on the analysis in the Final EIS, NMFS concluded that the preferred Alternative (Alternative 2) provides the best balance among relevant environmental, social, and economic considerations and allows for continued management of the groundfish fisheries based on the most recent, best scientific information. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis This Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was prepared for this proposed rule, as required by Section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 603), to describe the economic impact that this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. The IRFA describes the action; the reasons why this proposed rule is proposed; the objectives and legal basis for this proposed rule; the estimated number and description of directly regulated small entities to which this proposed rule would apply; the recordkeeping, reporting, and other compliance requirements of this proposed rule; and the relevant Federal PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 474 rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this proposed rule. The IRFA also describes significant alternatives to this proposed rule that would accomplish the stated objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and any other applicable statutes, and that would minimize any significant economic impact of this proposed rule on small entities. The description of the proposed action, its purpose, and the legal basis are explained earlier in the preamble and are not repeated here. For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. A shoreside processor primarily involved in seafood processing (NAICS code 311710) is E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual employment, counting all individuals employed on a full-time, part-time, or other basis, not in excess of 750 employees for all its affiliated operations worldwide. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by This Proposed Rule The entities directly regulated by the groundfish harvest specifications include: a) entities operating vessels with groundfish Federal fisheries permits (FFPs) catching FMP groundfish in Federal waters (including those receiving direction allocations of groundfish); b) all entities operating vessels, regardless of whether they hold groundfish FFPs, catching FMP groundfish in the state-waters parallel fisheries; and c) all entities operating vessels fishing for halibut inside three miles of the shore (whether or not they have FFPs). In 2019 (the most recent year of complete data), there were 871 individual CVs and CPs with gross revenues less than or equal to $11 million. This estimate does not account for corporate affiliations among vessels, and for cooperative affiliations among fishing entities, since some of the fishing vessels operating in the GOA are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI CR Program cooperatives. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA because the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members exceed the $11 million threshold. After accounting for membership in these cooperatives, there are an estimated 812 small CV and 5 small CP entities remaining in the GOA groundfish sector. However, the estimate of these 817 CVs may be an overstatement of the number of small entities. This latter group of vessels had average gross revenues that varied by gear type. Average gross revenues for hook-and-line CVs, pot gear CVs, trawl gear CVs, and hook-and-line CPs are estimated to be $350,000, $780,000, $1.6 million, and $2.9 million, respectively. Description of Significant Alternatives That Minimize Adverse Impacts on Small Entities The action under consideration is the proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:31 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 limits for the groundfish fishery of the GOA. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2021 and 2022 fishing years and is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The establishment of the proposed harvest specifications is governed by the Council’s harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the GOA. This strategy was selected from among five alternatives, with the preferred alternative harvest strategy being one in which the TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC. Under the preferred harvest strategy, TACs are set to a level that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the harvest strategy produces may vary from year to year, the methodology used for the preferred harvest strategy remains constant. The TACs associated with preferred harvest strategy are those recommended by the Council in October 2020. OFLs and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council’s Plan Team in September 2020, and reviewed by the Council’s SSC in October 2020. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. The 2021 TACs in these proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2021 TACs in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications (85 FR 13802; March 10, 2020), and the sum of all TACs remains within OY for the GOA. The proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs and ABCs are based on the best available biological information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised technical methods to calculate stock biomass. The proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information. The proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2019 SAFE report, which is the most recent, completed SAFE report. Under this action, the proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. The proposed TACs are within the range of proposed ABCs recommended by the SSC and do not exceed the biological limits recommended by the SSC (the ABCs and overfishing levels). For most PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 78095 species and species groups in the GOA, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, TACs equal to proposed ABCs, which is intended to maximize harvest opportunities in the GOA. For some species and species groups, however, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes TACs that are less than the proposed ABCs, including for pollock in the W/C/WYK Regulatory Area, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western Regulatory Area, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, and Atka mackerel. In the GOA, increasing TACs for some species may not result in increased harvest opportunities for those species. This is due to a variety of reasons. There may be a lack of commercial or market interest in some species. Additionally, there are fixed, and therefore constraining, PSC limits associated with the harvest of the GOA groundfish species that can lead to an underharvest of flatfish TACs. For this reason, the shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these target species while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts in other fisheries. Finally, the TACs for two species (pollock and Pacific cod) cannot be set equal to ABC, as the TAC must be reduced to account for the State’s GHLs in these fisheries. The W/C/WYK Regulatory Area pollock TAC and the GOA Pacific cod TACs are therefore set to account for the State’s GHLs for the State water pollock and Pacific cod fisheries so that the ABCs are not exceeded. The proposed GOA Pacific cod TACs also include a further reduction implemented in the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications as an additional conservation measure due to the stock’s projected 2020 spawning biomass. For most species in the GOA, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, that proposed TACs equal proposed ABCs, unless other conservation or management reasons support proposed TAC amounts less than the proposed ABCs. Based upon the best available scientific data, and in consideration of the Council’s objectives of this action, it appears that there are no significant alternatives to the proposed rule that have the potential to accomplish the E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78096 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules stated objectives of the MagnusonStevens Act and any other applicable statutes and that have the potential to minimize any significant adverse economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. This action is economically beneficial to entities operating in the GOA, including small entities. The action proposes TACs for commercially-valuable species in the GOA and allows for the continued prosecution of the fishery, thereby creating the opportunity for fishery revenue. After public process during which the Council solicited input from stakeholders, the Council concluded that the proposed harvest specifications would best accomplish the stated objectives articulated in the preamble for this proposed rule, and in applicable statutes, and would minimize to the extent practicable adverse economic impacts on the universe of directly regulated small entities. This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal rules. This proposed rule contains no information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered or threatened species resulting from fishing activities conducted under these harvest specifications are discussed in the Final EIS and its accompanying annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 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 25, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–26592 Filed 12–1–20; 8:45 am] khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 201125–0319; RTID 0648– XY116] Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2021 and 2022 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; harvest specifications and request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2021 and 2022 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). The 2021 harvest specifications supersede those previously set in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, and the 2022 harvest specifications will be superseded in early 2022 when the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications are published. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). DATES: Comments must be received by January 4, 2021. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2020–0141, by either of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20200141, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Records Office. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668. Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by any other method, to any other address or SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 individual, or received after the comment period ends. All comments received are a part of the public record, and NMFS will post the comments for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender is publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS, and the annual Supplementary Information Reports (SIRs) to the Final EIS prepared for this action are available from https:// www.regulations.gov. An updated 2021 SIR for the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications will be available from the same source. The final 2019 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2019, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501–2252, phone 907–271–2809, or from the Council’s website at https://www.npfmc.org/. The 2020 SAFE report for the BSAI will be available from the same source. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 implement the FMP and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it, under the MagnusonStevens Act. General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. The FMP and its implementing regulations require that NMFS, after consultation with the Council, specify annually the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum of TACs for all groundfish species in the BSAI must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see § 679.20(a)(1)(i)(A)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires that NMFS publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal Register and solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof; prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances; prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves established by § 679.21; seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC; American Fisheries E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 233 (Thursday, December 3, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 78076-78096]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-26592]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 201125-0318; RTID 0648-XY115]


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska; Proposed 2021 and 2022 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; harvest specifications and request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for 
the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is 
necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2021 
and 2022 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of 
the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The 
2021 harvest specifications supersede those previously set in the final 
2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, and the 2022 harvest 
specifications will be superseded in early 2022 when the final 2022 and 
2023 harvest specifications are published. The intended effect of this 
action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in 
accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES: Comments must be received by January 4, 2021.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-
2020-0140, by either of the following methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-

[[Page 78077]]

0140, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, 
and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Records Office. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 
99802-1668.
    Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by 
any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after 
the comment period ends. All comments received are a part of the public 
record, and NMFS will post the comments for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, 
or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender 
is publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/
A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
    Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision 
(ROD) for the Final EIS, and the annual Supplementary Information 
Reports (SIRs) to the Final EIS prepared for this action are available 
from https://www.regulations.gov. An updated 2021 SIR for the final 
2021 and 2022 harvest specifications will be available from the same 
source. The final 2019 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) 
report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2019, is 
available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) 
at 1007 West Third, Suite 400, Anchorage, AK 99501-2252, phone 907-271-
2809, or from the Council's website at https://www.npfmc.org. The 2020 
SAFE report for the GOA will be available from the same source.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in 
the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council 
prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 
U.S.C. 1801, et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and 
implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require that NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, specify the total allowable catch (TAC) 
for each target species, the sum of which must be within the optimum 
yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt) (Sec.  
679.20(a)(1)(i)(B)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to 
publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs and 
apportionments thereof, Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) 
limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. The 
proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 19 of this rule 
satisfy these requirements. For 2021 and 2022, the sum of the proposed 
TAC amounts is 402,783 mt.
    Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2021 and 2022 
harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within 
the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its 
December 2020 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 
2021 SIR to the Final EIS that assesses the need to prepare a 
Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information 
presented in the final 2020 SAFE reports prepared for the 2021 and 2022 
groundfish fisheries.

Other Actions Affecting or Potentially Affecting the 2021 and 2022 
Harvest Specifications

Amendment 109 to the FMP: Revisions to the GOA Pollock Seasons and 
Pacific Cod Seasonal Allocations

    On June 25, 2020, NMFS published a final rule to implement 
Amendment 109 to the FMP (85 FR 38093), effective January 1, 2021. The 
final rule revised the pollock seasons and allocations in the GOA, 
along with Pacific cod season allocations. Amendment 109 modified the 
existing annual pollock TAC allocation to two equal seasonal 
allocations (50 percent of TAC), rather than four equal seasonal 
allocations (25 percent of TAC). The pollock A and B seasons were 
combined into a January 20 through May 31 A season, and the pollock C 
and D seasons were combined into a September 1 through November 1 B 
season. Additionally, Amendment 109 revised the Pacific cod TAC 
seasonal apportionments to the trawl catcher vessel (CV) sector by 
increasing the A season allocation and decreasing the B season 
allocation. The revisions implemented by Amendment 109 are incorporated 
into these proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications.

Amendment 110 to the FMP: Reclassify Sculpins as an Ecosystem Component 
Species

    On July 10, 2020, NMFS published the final rule to implement 
Amendment 110 to the FMP (85 FR 41427). The final rule reclassified 
sculpins in the FMP as an ``Ecosystem Component'' species, which is a 
category of non-target species that are not in need of conservation and 
management. Accordingly, NMFS will no longer set an Overfishing Level 
(OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), and TAC for sculpins in the 
GOA groundfish harvest specifications, beginning with these proposed 
2021 and 2022 harvest specifications. Amendment 110 prohibits directed 
fishing for sculpins, while maintaining recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements for sculpins. Amendment 110 also establishes a maximum 
retainable amount for sculpins when directed fishing for groundfish 
species at 20 percent to discourage targeting sculpin species.

Potential Revisions to the Sablefish Apportionment Process

    The Alaska-wide sablefish ABC is apportioned between six areas 
within the GOA and BSAI (the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, Western 
Gulf, Central Gulf, West Yakutat, and East Yakutat/Southeast Areas). 
Since 2013, a fixed apportionment methodology has been used to 
apportion the ABC between those six years. However, a new apportionment 
methodology is being considered that could affect the apportionment of 
sablefish ABC, as well as TACs and gear allocations between the trawl 
and fixed gear sectors, specified in future GOA groundfish harvest 
specifications. The Joint BSAI and GOA Groundfish Plan Team, Scientific 
and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Council will review and propose 
any changes to the sablefish ABC apportionment methodology and could 
recommend changes for the final 2021 and 2022 groundfish harvest 
specifications.

Proposed ABC and TAC Specifications

    In October 2020, the Council's SSC, its Advisory Panel (AP), and 
the Council reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information 
about the condition of the GOA groundfish stocks. The Council's GOA 
Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) compiled and presented this 
information in the final 2019 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish 
fisheries, dated November 2019 (see ADDRESSES). The SAFE report 
contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of 
each species' biomass and other biological parameters, as well as 
summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and the 
economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these 
data and analyses, the Plan Team recommends, and the SSC sets, an OFL 
and ABC for each species or species group. The amounts proposed for the 
2021 and

[[Page 78078]]

2022 OFLs and ABCs are based on the 2019 SAFE report. The AP and 
Council recommended that the proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs be set equal 
to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception 
of the species and species groups further discussed below. The proposed 
OFLs, ABCs, and TACs could be changed in the final harvest 
specifications depending on the most recent scientific information 
contained in the final 2020 SAFE report. The stock assessments that 
will comprise, in part, the 2020 SAFE report are available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/population-assessments/north-pacific-groundfish-stock-assessment-and-fishery-evaluation. The final 2020 SAFE 
report will be available from the same source.
    In November 2020, the Plan Team will update the 2019 SAFE report to 
include new information collected during 2020, such as NMFS stock 
surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team will 
compile this information and present the draft 2020 SAFE report at the 
December 2020 Council meeting. At that meeting, the SSC and the Council 
will review the 2020 SAFE report, and the Council will approve the 2020 
SAFE report. The Council will consider information in the 2020 SAFE 
report, recommendations from the November 2020 Plan Team meeting and 
December 2020 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant 
written public comments in making its recommendations for the final 
2021 and 2022 harvest specifications. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(2) 
and (3), the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if warranted 
based on the biological condition of groundfish stocks or a variety of 
socioeconomic considerations, or if required to cause the sum of TACs 
to fall within the OY range.
    Many of the scheduled 2020 GOA and Bering Sea groundfish and 
ecosystem surveys were cancelled or modified; some were conducted as 
planned. The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) implemented a 
variety of mitigation efforts to partially address the loss of data 
from cancelled surveys in 2020. Currently, for 2021 the AFSC plans to 
resume the normal schedule of surveys for the GOA including a two-
vessel GOA trawl survey and GOA acoustic-trawl survey. The stock 
assessment process is adaptable to the changes in availability of 
survey data, as many surveys are conducted periodically, rather than 
annually, and any changes relevant to the stock assessment process will 
be addressed in the final SAFE report.

Potential Changes Between Proposed and Final Specifications

    In previous years, the most significant changes (relative to the 
amount of assessed tonnage of fish) to the OFLs and ABCs from the 
proposed to the final harvest specifications have been based on the 
most recent NMFS stock surveys. These surveys provide updated estimates 
of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and inform changes to the 
models used for producing stock assessments. At the September 2020 Plan 
Team meeting, NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results. 
Scientists also discussed potential changes to assessment models, and 
accompanying preliminary stock estimates. At the October 2020 Council 
meeting, the SSC reviewed this information. The species with potential 
for a significant model change is Pacific ocean perch. Model changes 
can result in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs.
    In November 2020, the Plan Team will consider updated survey 
results and updated stock assessments for groundfish, which will be 
included in the draft 2020 SAFE report. If the 2020 SAFE report 
indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, 
then the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications for that species 
may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. 
Conversely, if the 2020 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass 
trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2021 and 2022 harvest 
specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest 
specifications.
    The proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs and ABCs are based on the best 
available biological and scientific information, including projected 
biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, 
and revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP 
specifies the tiers to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. The tiers 
applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the 
level of reliable information available to the fisheries scientists. 
This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers 
to define OFLs and ABCs, with Tier 1 representing the highest level of 
information quality available and Tier 6 representing the lowest level 
of information quality available. The Plan Team used the FMP tier 
structure to calculate OFLs and ABCs for each groundfish species. The 
SSC adopted the proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the 
Plan Team for all groundfish species. The proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs 
are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic 
information. The Council adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations 
and the AP's TAC recommendations.

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs that are equal 
to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception 
of pollock in the combined Western and Central Regulatory Areas and the 
West Yakutat (WYK) District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (the W/C/WYK 
Regulatory Area), Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western 
Regulatory Area, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas, and Atka mackerel. The W/C/WYK Regulatory 
Area pollock TAC and the GOA Pacific cod TACs are set to account for 
the State of Alaska's (State's) guideline harvest levels (GHLs) for the 
State water pollock and Pacific cod fisheries so that the ABCs are not 
exceeded. Additionally, the proposed GOA Pacific cod TACs include a 
further reduction, which the Council recommended and NMFS implemented 
in the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, as an additional 
conservation measure due to the stock's projected 2020 spawning biomass 
(discussed further below). The shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth 
flounder, and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for increased harvest 
opportunities for these target species while conserving the halibut PSC 
limit for use in other fisheries. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to 
accommodate incidental catch amounts in other fisheries. These 
reductions are described below.
    NMFS's proposed apportionments of groundfish species are based on 
the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas over which NMFS 
manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of 
pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on 
apportionments of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish are described 
below.
    The ABC for the pollock stock in the W/C/WYK Regulatory Area 
accounts for the GHL established by the State for the Prince William 
Sound (PWS) pollock fishery. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council have 
recommended that the sum of all State water and Federal water pollock 
removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. For 2021 and 
2022, the Council recommended the W/C/WYK pollock ABC include the 
amount to account for the State's PWS GHL. At the November 2018 Plan 
Team

[[Page 78079]]

meeting, State fisheries managers recommended setting the future PWS 
GHL at 2.5 percent of the annual W/C/WYK pollock ABC. For 2021, this 
yields a PWS pollock GHL of 2,797 mt, an increase of 85 mt from the 
2020 PWS GHL of 2,712 mt. After accounting for the PWS GHL, the 2021 
and 2022 pollock ABC for the combined W/C/WYK areas is then apportioned 
among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630, and 640) as both 
ABCs and TACs, as described below and detailed in Table 1. The total 
ABCs and TACs for the four statistical areas, plus the State GHL, do 
not exceed the combined W/C/WYK ABC. The proposed W/C/WYK 2021 and 2022 
pollock ABC is 111,888 mt, and the proposed TAC is 109,091 mt.
    Apportionments of pollock to the W/C/WYK management areas are 
considered to be apportionments of annual catch limit (ACLs) rather 
than apportionments of ABCs. This more accurately reflects that such 
apportionments address management concerns, rather than biological or 
conservation concerns. In addition, apportionments of the ACL in this 
manner allow NMFS to balance any transfer of TAC among Areas 610, 620, 
and 630 pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the 
combined W/C/WYK ACL, ABC, and TAC are not exceeded.
    NMFS proposes pollock TACs in the Western Regulatory Area (Area 
610), Central Regulatory Area (Areas 620 and 630), and the West Yakutat 
District (Area 640) and the Southeast Outside (SEO) District (Area 650) 
of the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also 
proposes seasonal apportionment of the annual pollock TAC in the 
Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among Statistical Areas 
610, 620, and 630. These apportionments are divided equally among the 
following two seasons: The A season (January 20 through May 31) and the 
B season (September 1 through November 1) (Sec. Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) 
and (ii), and 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail is 
provided below; Table 2 lists these amounts.
    The proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate 
the State's GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in PWS (in the Eastern Regulatory 
Area) (see Table 1). The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended 
that the sum of all State water and Federal water Pacific cod removals 
from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the Council 
recommended the 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, 
and Eastern Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. Therefore, the 
proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs are less than the proposed ABCs 
by the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 1,483 mt; (2) Central GOA, 
2,115 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 305 mt. These amounts reflect the 
State's 2021 and 2022 GHLs in these areas, which are 30 percent of the 
Western GOA proposed ABC, and 25 percent of the Eastern and Central GOA 
proposed ABCs. The proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs also 
incorporate an additional reduction (40 percent) from the proposed 
Pacific cod ABCs, after deduction of the State GHL amounts. This 
reduction was recommended by the Council and implemented by NMFS in the 
final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications after the 2019 SAFE 
indicated that the spawning biomass of Pacific cod would be below 20 
percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass during 2020. At the 
December 2020 meeting, the Council will consider whether to recommend 
any reduction of the final Pacific cod TACs based on the most recent 
2020 biological assessment on the stock condition for Pacific cod.
    NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionments of the Pacific cod TACs 
in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. A portion of the annual 
TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear 
from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl gear from January 20 
through June 10. The remainder of the annual TAC is apportioned to the 
B season for jig gear from June 10 through December 31, for hook-and-
line and pot gear from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl 
gear from September 1 through November 1 (Sec. Sec.  679.23(d)(3) and 
679.20(a)(12)). The Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs are 
allocated among various gear and operational sectors. The Pacific cod 
sector apportionments are discussed in detail in a subsequent section 
and in Table 3 of this rule.
    In 2020, NMFS prohibited directed fishing for Pacific cod in the 
GOA, in accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(4). At that time, NMFS 
determined that the 2019 biological assessment of stock condition for 
Pacific cod in the GOA projected that the spawning biomass in the GOA 
would be below 20 percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass 
during 2020. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(d)(4), the directed fishery for 
Pacific cod in the GOA will remain closed until a subsequent biological 
assessment projects that the spawning biomass for Pacific cod in the 
GOA will exceed 20 percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass 
during a fishing year. At the November 2020 Plan Team and December 2020 
SSC meetings, the Plan Team and SSC will review the Pacific cod stock 
assessment and evaluate the stock condition of Pacific cod to determine 
whether the directed fishery for Pacific cod in the GOA will remain 
closed pursuant to Sec.  679.20(d)(4).
    The Council's recommendation for sablefish area apportionments 
takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (Sec.  679.7(b)(1)) and makes 
available five percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area TACs to 
vessels using trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other trawl 
groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)). 
Additional detail is provided below. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 
2021 and 2022 allocations of the sablefish TAC to fixed gear and trawl 
gear in the GOA.
    For 2021 and 2022, the Council recommends and NMFS proposes the 
OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. These amounts are consistent 
with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 
2019 SAFE report. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are 
less than the specified overfishing levels. The proposed TACs are 
adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations. The sum 
of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 402,783 mt for 2021 and 
2022, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. These proposed 
amounts and apportionments by area, season, and sector are subject to 
change pending consideration of the 2020 SAFE report and the Council's 
recommendations for the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications 
during its December 2020 meeting.

[[Page 78080]]



    Table 1--Proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat,
 Western, Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas, the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern
                          Regulatory Area, and Gulfwide District of the Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                         Area \1\                OFL             ABC           TAC \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \2\...........................  Shumagin (610)..........             n/a          19,775          19,775
                                        Chirikof (620)..........             n/a          56,159          56,159
                                        Kodiak (630)............             n/a          27,429          27,429
                                        WYK (640)...............             n/a           5,728           5,728
                                        W/C/WYK (subtotal)......         149,988         111,888         109,091
                                        SEO (650)...............          13,531          10,148          10,148
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                          163,519         122,036         119,239
Pacific cod \3\.......................  W.......................             n/a           4,942           2,076
                                        C.......................             n/a           8,458           3,806
                                        E.......................             n/a           1,221             549
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                           30,099          14,621           6,431
Sablefish \4\.........................  W.......................             n/a           3,003           3,003
                                        C.......................             n/a           9,963           9,963
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,323           3,323
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           5,963           5,963
                                        E (WYK and SEO)                      n/a           9,286           9,286
                                         (subtotal).
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total (Alaska-wide              64,765          22,252          22,252
                                        OFL)
Shallow-water flatfish \5\............  W.......................             n/a          24,256          13,250
                                        C.......................             n/a          28,205          28,205
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,820           2,820
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,128           1,128
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                           69,129          56,409          45,403
Deep-water flatfish \6\...............  W.......................             n/a             225             225
                                        C.......................             n/a           1,914           1,914
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,068           2,068
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,719           1,719
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            7,040           5,926           5,926
Rex sole..............................  W.......................             n/a           3,013           3,013
                                        C.......................             n/a           8,912           8,912
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,206           1,206
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,285           2,285
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                           18,779          15,416          15,416
Arrowtooth flounder...................  W.......................             n/a          30,545          14,500
                                        C.......................             n/a          66,683          66,683
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           9,946           6,900
                                        SEO.....................             n/a          17,183           6,900
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                          148,597         124,357          94,983
Flathead sole.........................  W.......................             n/a          14,191           8,650
                                        C.......................             n/a          20,799          15,400
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,424           2,424
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,912           1,912
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                           47,919          39,326          28,386
Pacific ocean perch \7\...............  W.......................             n/a           1,379           1,379
                                        C.......................             n/a          22,727          22,727
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,410           1,410
                                        W/C/WYK.................          30,297          25,516          25,516
                                        SEO.....................           5,303           4,467           4,467
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                           35,600          29,983          29,983
Northern rockfish \8\.................  W.......................             n/a           1,079           1,079
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,027           3,027
                                        E.......................             n/a               1               -
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            4,898           4,107           4,106
Shortraker rockfish \9\...............  W.......................             n/a              52              52
                                        C.......................             n/a             284             284
                                        E.......................             n/a             372             372
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                              944             708             708
Dusky rockfish \10\...................  W.......................             n/a             759             759
                                        C.......................             n/a           2,688           2,688

[[Page 78081]]

 
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             113             113
                                        SEO.....................             n/a              38              38
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            4,396           3,598           3,598
Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish      W.......................             n/a             169             169
 \11\.
                                        C.......................             n/a             455             455
                                        E.......................             n/a             587             587
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            1,455           1,211           1,211
Demersal shelf rockfish \12\..........  SEO.....................             375             238             238
Thornyhead rockfish \13\..............  W.......................             n/a             326             326
                                        C.......................             n/a             911             911
                                        E.......................             n/a             779             779
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            2,688           2,016           2,016
Other rockfish 14 15..................  W/C combined............             n/a             940             940
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             369             369
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,744           2,744
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            5,320           4,053           4,053
Atka mackerel.........................  GW......................           6,200           4,700           3,000
Big skates \16\.......................  W.......................             n/a             758             758
                                        C.......................             n/a           1,560           1,560
                                        E.......................             n/a             890             890
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            4,278           3,208           3,208
Longnose skates \17\..................  W.......................             n/a             158             158
                                        C.......................             n/a           1,875           1,875
                                        E.......................             n/a             554             554
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            3,449           2,587           2,587
Other skates \18\.....................  GW......................           1,166             875             875
Sharks................................  GW......................          10,913           8,184           8,184
Octopuses.............................  GW......................           1,307             980             980
    Total.............................  ........................         632,836         466,791         402,783
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of
  Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide).
\2\ The total for the W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas pollock ABC is 111,888 mt. After deducting 2.5 percent (2,797 mt)
  of that ABC for the State's pollock GHL fishery, the remaining pollock ABC of 109,091 mt (for the W/C/WYK
  Regulatory Areas) is apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630, and 640). These
  apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes.
  The ACLs in Areas 610, 620, and 630 are further divided by season, as detailed in Table 2. In the West Yakutat
  (Area 640) and Southeast Outside (Area 650) Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided
  into seasonal allowances.
\3\ The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned: (1) 63.84 percent to the A season and 36.16 percent to the B
  season and (2) 64.16 percent to the A season and 35.84 percent to the B season in the Western and Central
  Regulatory Areas of the GOA, respectively. The Pacific cod TAC in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA is
  allocated 90 percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent
  to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component. Table 3 lists the proposed 2021
  and 2022 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments and sector allocations.
\4\ The Sablefish OFL is set Alaska-wide. Additionally, sablefish is allocated to fixed and trawl gear in 2021
  and trawl gear in 2022. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2021 and 2022 allocations of sablefish TACs.
\5\ ``Shallow-water flatfish'' means flatfish not including ``deep-water flatfish,'' flathead sole, rex sole, or
  arrowtooth flounder.
\6\ ``Deep-water flatfish'' means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deepsea sole.
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.
\8\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 1 mt apportionment of ABC to
  the WYK District of the Eastern Regulatory Area has been included in the ``other rockfish'' species group.
\9\ ``Shortraker rockfish'' means Sebastes borealis.
\10\ ``Dusky rockfish'' means Sebastes variabilis.
\11\ ``Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish'' means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus
  (blackspotted).
\12\ ``Demersal shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper),
  S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye).
\13\ ``Thornyhead rockfish'' means Sebastes species.
\14\ ``Other rockfish means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S.
  goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S.
  wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani
  (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus
  (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA
  only, ``other rockfish'' also includes northern rockfish (S. polyspinous).
\15\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District of the
  Eastern Regulatory Area means all rockfish species included in the ``other rockfish'' and demersal shelf
  rockfish categories. The ``other rockfish'' species group in the SEO District only includes other rockfish.
\16\ ``Big skates'' means Raja binoculata.
\17\ ``Longnose skates'' means Raja rhina.
\18\ ``Other skates'' means Bathyraja and Raja spp.


[[Page 78082]]

Proposed Apportionment of Reserves

    Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each 
TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sharks, and octopuses in 
reserve for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing 
year. Section 679.20(b)(3) authorizes NMFS to reapportion all or part 
of these reserves. In 2020, NMFS reapportioned all of the reserves in 
the final harvest specifications. For 2021 and 2022, NMFS proposes 
reapportionment of each of the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, 
flatfish, sharks, and octopuses back into the original TAC from which 
the reserve was derived. NMFS expects, based on recent harvest 
patterns, that such reserves will not be necessary and that the entire 
TAC for each of these species will be caught. The TACs in Table 1 
reflect this proposed reapportionment of reserve amounts to the 
original TAC for these species and species groups, i.e., each proposed 
TAC for the above-mentioned species or species groups contains the full 
TAC recommended by the Council.

Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory 
Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore 
Components

    In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is 
further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified 
for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned 
into two seasonal allowances of 50 percent. 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. This is a change from 2020 and prior years, 
when there were four specified pollock seasons of equal seasonal 
allowances of 25 percent. As described earlier in the preamble, the 
regulatory revisions implemented by Amendment 109 to the FMP (85 FR 
38093, June 25, 2020) decreased the number of seasons to two and 
established two equal seasonal allowances of 50 percent. NMFS is 
incorporating these regulatory revisions (which are effective January 
1, 2021) into the harvest specifications for the GOA, and Table 2, 
below, reflects the revised seasons and seasonal allocations 
implemented by Amendment 109 to the FMP.
    The GOA pollock stock assessment continues to use a four-season 
methodology to determine pollock distribution in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA to maintain continuity in the 
historical pollock apportionment time-series. Pollock TACs in the 
Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are apportioned among 
Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630 in proportion to the distribution 
of pollock biomass determined by the most recent NMFS surveys, pursuant 
to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). The pollock chapter of the 2019 SAFE 
report (see ADDRESSES) contains a comprehensive description of the 
apportionment and reasons for the minor changes from past 
apportionments. For purposes of specifying pollock between two seasons 
for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, NMFS has 
summed the A and B season apportionments and the C and D season 
apportionments as calculated in the 2019 GOA pollock assessment. This 
yields the seasonal amounts specified for the A season and the B 
season, respectively.
    Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance 
is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, 
subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the 
Regional Administrator (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount 
is limited to 20 percent of the subsequent seasonal TAC apportionment 
for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20-percent 
limit could be further distributed to the subsequent season in the 
other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass to the 
subsequent season and in an amount no more than 20 percent of the 
seasonal TAC apportionment in those statistical areas (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2021 and 2022 pollock TACs in the 
WYK District of 5,728 mt and the SEO District of 10,148 mt are not 
allocated by season.
    Table 2 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 area apportionments and 
seasonal allowances of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory 
Areas. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and 
offshore components are not shown. Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires 
allocation of 100 percent of the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas 
and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing 
by the inshore component after subtraction of amounts projected by the 
Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore 
component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. 
Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting 
pollock for processing by the offshore component is the amount that 
will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for 
groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable 
amounts allowed by Sec.  679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these 
incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined 
during the 2021 fishing year during the course of fishing activities by 
the offshore component.

 Table 2--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western 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 amounts of pollock for
  processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table.
\3\ The West Yakutat and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not
  included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table.


[[Page 78083]]

Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS proposes allocations for 
the 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. NMFS 
also proposes allocating the 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs annually 
between the inshore (90 percent) and offshore (10 percent) components 
in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA (Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(ii)). In 
the Central GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to 
vessels using jig gear, and then among CVs less than 50 feet in length 
overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 feet 
in length overall using hook-and-line gear, catcher/processors (CPs) 
using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, CPs using trawl gear, 
and vessels using pot gear (Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(B)). In the Western 
GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels 
using jig gear, and then among CVs using hook-and-line gear, CPs using 
hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, CPs using trawl gear, and 
vessels using pot gear (Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A)). The overall 
seasonal apportionments of the annual TAC in the Western GOA are 63.84 
percent to the A season and 36.16 percent to the B season, and in the 
Central GOA are 64.16 percent to the A season and 35.84 percent to the 
B season.
    Under Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the 
Pacific cod allowance from the A season may be subtracted from, or 
added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion 
of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that is 
determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be 
reallocated to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the 
fishing year.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the 
annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be 
allocated to vessels with a Federal fisheries permit that use jig gear 
before the TACs are apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In 
accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase 
to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod 
TACs, depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (see Table 
1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig 
sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). Jig sector 
allocation increases are established for a minimum of two years.
    NMFS has evaluated the historical harvest performance of the jig 
sector in the Western and Central GOA, and proposes 2021 and 2022 
Pacific cod apportionments to this sector based on its historical 
harvest performance through 2019. For 2021 and 2022, NMFS proposes that 
the jig sector receive 3.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the 
Western GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.5 percent and an 
additional performance increase of 2.0 percent. NMFS also proposes that 
the jig sector receive 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the 
Central GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.0 percent and no 
additional performance increase. The 2014 through 2019 Pacific cod jig 
allocations, catch, and percent allocation changes are listed in Figure 
1.

    Figure 1--Summary of Western GOA and Central GOA Pacific Cod Catch by Jig Gear in 2014 Through 2019, and Corresponding Percent Allocation Changes
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                 Percent of
             Area                   Year           Initial       Initial TAC     Catch (mt)        initial     >90% of initial      Change to percent
                                               percent of TAC    allocation                      allocation      allocation?           allocation
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA..................            2014             2.5             573             785             137               Y   Increase 1%.
                                         2015             3.5             948              55               6               N   None.
                                         2016             3.5             992              52               5               N   Decrease 1%.
                                         2017             2.5             635              49               8               N   Decrease 1%.
                                         2018             1.5             125             121              97               Y   Increase 1%.
                                         2019             2.5             134             134             100               Y   Increase 1%.
Central GOA..................            2014             2.0             797             262              33               N   Decrease 1%.
                                         2015             1.0             460             355              77               N   None.
                                         2016             1.0             370             267              72               N   None.
                                         2017             1.0             331              18               6               N   None.
                                         2018             1.0              61               0               0               N   None.
                                         2019             1.0              58              30              52               N   None.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For 2021 and 2022, NMFS proposes apportioning the jig sector 
allocations for the Western and Central GOA between the A season (60 
percent) and the B season (40 percent). This is the same jig sector 
seasonal apportionments implemented in prior groundfish harvest 
specifications for the GOA and is consistent with Amendment 83 to the 
FMP (76 FR 44700; July 26, 2011). NMFS will not evaluate the 2020 
performance of the jig sectors in the Western and Central GOA: Since 
NMFS prohibited directed fishing for all Pacific cod sectors in 2020, 
the catch for the jig sectors will not reach 90 percent of the initial 
allocation required for a performance increase (84 FR 70438, December 
23, 2019). As discussed earlier in this preamble, the directed fishing 
prohibition was issued pursuant to Sec.  679.20(d)(4) and required 
because the 2019 biological assessment of stock condition for Pacific 
cod in the GOA projected that the spawning biomass in the GOA would be 
below 20 percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass during 
2020.
    As discussed earlier in this preamble, NMFS published a final rule 
(85 FR 38093, June 25, 2020) to implement Amendment 109 to the FMP. 
With respect to Pacific cod, Amendment 109 revised the Pacific cod TAC 
seasonal apportionments to the trawl CV sector by increasing the A 
season allocation and decreasing the B season allocation, with the 
intent of decreasing the annual underharvest of Pacific cod by this 
sector. NMFS is incorporating the revised 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 has increased to 31.54 percent and 25.29 percent in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, respectively. The B season 
apportionment for trawl CVs has decreased to 6.86 percent and 16.29 
percent in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, 
respectively. The seasonal allowances of

[[Page 78084]]

the trawl CV sector's annual TAC limit in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Area of the GOA are revised to reflect the revised seasonal 
apportionments. Table 3 lists these revisions in the trawl CV seasonal 
apportionments and sets forth the seasonal apportionments and 
allocations of the proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs.

 Table 3--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocations 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 CP............             397           10.90             218            8.90             178
    Trawl CV....................             769           31.54             632            6.86             137
    Trawl CP....................              48            0.90              18            1.50              30
    Pot CV and Pot CP...........             761           19.80             397           18.20             365
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        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 CP............             192            4.11             155            1.00              38
    Trawl CV \1\................           1,567           25.29             953           16.29             614
    Trawl CP....................             158            2.00              75            2.19              83
    Pot CV and Pot CP...........           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 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA and
  Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679).

Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TAC Amounts to Vessels Using 
Fixed Gear and Trawl Gear

    Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) requires allocations of sablefish 
TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to fixed and trawl 
gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each 
TAC is allocated to fixed gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated 
to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is 
allocated to fixed gear, and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The 
trawl gear allocation in the Eastern Regulatory Area may be used only 
to support incidental catch of sablefish while directed fishing for 
other target species using trawl gear (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)).
    In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and 
NMFS proposes specifying for incidental catch the allocation of 5 
percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl 
gear in the WYK District of the Eastern Regulatory Area. The remainder 
of the WYK District sablefish TAC is allocated to vessels using fixed 
gear. This proposed action allocates 100 percent of the sablefish TAC 
in the SEO District to vessels using fixed gear. This results in a 
proposed 2021 allocation of 464 mt to trawl gear and 2,859 mt to fixed 
gear in the WYK District, a proposed 2022 allocation of 5,963 mt to 
fixed gear in the SEO District, and a proposed 2022 allocation of 464 
mt to trawl gear in the WYK District. Table 4 lists the allocations of 
the proposed 2021 sablefish TACs to fixed and trawl gear. Table 5 lists 
the allocations of the proposed 2022 sablefish TACs to trawl gear.
    The Council recommended that the trawl sablefish TAC be established 
for two years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by 
trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of the 
groundfish harvest specifications. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 
2021 and 2022 trawl allocations, respectively.
    The Council also recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be 
established annually to ensure that the sablefish IFQ fishery is 
conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on the 
most recent survey information. Since there is an annual assessment for 
sablefish and since the final harvest specifications are expected to be 
published before the IFQ season begins (typically, in early March), the 
Council recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be set annually, 
rather than for 2 years, so that the best available scientific 
information could be considered in establishing the sablefish ABCs and 
TACs. Accordingly, Table 4 lists the proposed 2021 fixed gear 
allocations, and the 2022 fixed gear allocations will be specified in 
the 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications.
    With the exception of the trawl allocations that are provided to 
the Rockfish Program (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), directed 
fishing for sablefish with trawl gear is closed during the fishing 
year. Also, fishing for

[[Page 78085]]

groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 20 (Sec.  
679.23(c)). Therefore, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation 
to trawl gear would be reached before the effective date of the final 
2022 and 2023 harvest specifications.

   Table 4--Proposed 2021 Sablefish TAC Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocations to Fixed and Trawl Gear
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Fixed gear         Trawl
                          Area/district                                 TAC         allocation      allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           3,003           2,402             601
Central \1\.....................................................           9,963           7,970           1,993
West Yakutat \2\................................................           3,323           2,859             464
Southeast Outside...............................................           5,963           5,963               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................          22,252          19,195           3,058
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The trawl allocation of sablefish to the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the Rockfish
  Program cooperatives (1,025 mt). See Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA.
  This results in 968 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries.
\2\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West
  Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.


       Table 5--Proposed 2022 Sablefish TAC Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocation to Trawl Gear \1\
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Fixed gear         Trawl
                          Area/district                                 TAC         allocation      allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           3,003             n/a             601
Central \2\.....................................................           9,963             n/a           1,993
West Yakutat \3\................................................           3,323             n/a             464
Southeast Outside...............................................           5,963             n/a               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................          22,252             n/a           3,058
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the fixed gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota
  fisheries be limited to 1 year.
\2\ The trawl allocation of sablefish to the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the Rockfish
  Program cooperatives (1,025 mt). See Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA.
  This results in 968 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries.
\3\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West
  Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.

Proposed Allocations, Apportionments, and Sideboard Limitations for the 
Rockfish Program

    These proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications for the GOA 
include the fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations 
established by the Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily 
trawl CVs and trawl CPs, with limited participation by vessels using 
longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative 
quota to trawl participants for primary species (Pacific ocean perch, 
northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) and secondary species (Pacific 
cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead 
rockfish), allows a participant holding a license limitation program 
(LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative 
with other persons, and allows holders of CP LLP licenses to opt out of 
the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for 
rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear. Longline gear 
includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear.
    Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species in the Central 
GOA are allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch 
needs in other directed fisheries (Sec.  679.81(a)(2)). Participants in 
the Rockfish Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of 
specific secondary species. In addition to groundfish species, the 
Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the halibut PSC limit (191 mt) 
from the third season deep-water species fishery allowance for the GOA 
trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants (Sec.  679.81(d) and 
Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679). The Rockfish Program also establishes 
sideboard limits to restrict the ability of harvesters operating under 
the Rockfish Program to increase their participation in other, non-
Rockfish Program fisheries. These restrictions and halibut PSC limits 
are discussed in a subsequent section in this rule titled ``Rockfish 
Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations.''
    Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) and Table 28e to 50 CFR part 679 require 
allocations of 5 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, 
and 50 mt of dusky rockfish to the entry level longline fishery in 2021 
and 2022. The allocation for the entry level longline fishery may 
increase incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the 
allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation 
would continue each year until it reaches the maximum percentage of the 
TAC for that species. In 2020, the catch for all three primary species 
did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. Therefore, 
NMFS is not proposing any increases to the entry level longline fishery 
2021 and 2022 allocations in the Central GOA. The remainder of the TACs 
for the rockfish primary species, after subtracting the incidental 
catch amounts (ICAs), would be allocated to the CV and CP cooperatives 
(Sec.  679.81(a)(2)(iii)). Table 6 lists the allocations of the 
proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs for each rockfish primary species to the 
entry level

[[Page 78086]]

longline fishery, the potential incremental increases for future years, 
and the maximum percentages of the TACs for the entry level longline 
fishery.

 Table 6--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species to the Entry Level Longline Fishery in
                                           the Central Gulf of Alaska
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Incremental
                                                                                    increase in
                                                                   Proposed 2021    2022 if >90
                                                                     and 2022       percent of    Up to  maximum
                    Rockfish primary species                        allocations        2021          percent of
                                                                   [metric tons]   allocation is   each TAC of:
                                                                                     harvested
                                                                                   [metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.............................................               5               5               1
Northern rockfish...............................................               5               5               2
Dusky rockfish..................................................              50              20               5
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 679.81 requires allocations of rockfish primary species 
among various sectors of the Rockfish Program. Table 7 lists the 
proposed 2021 and 2022 allocations of rockfish primary species in the 
Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery, and rockfish CV and CP 
cooperatives in the Rockfish Program. NMFS also proposes setting aside 
incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the 
Central GOA of 3,000 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 300 mt of northern 
rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These amounts are based on 
recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other 
groundfish fisheries.
    Allocations among vessels belonging to CV or CP cooperatives are 
not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program 
applications for CV cooperatives and CP cooperatives are not due to 
NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year; therefore, NMFS cannot 
calculate 2021 and 2022 allocations in conjunction with these proposed 
harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2021 allocations on the 
Alaska Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheries-management-reports#central-goa-rockfish when they become available after March 1.

  Table 7--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species in the Central Gulf of Alaska to the
                 Entry Level Longline Fishery and Rockfish Cooperatives in the Rockfish Program
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Incidental                     Allocation to   Allocation to
                                    Central GOA        catch                         the entry     the rockfish
    Rockfish primary species            TAC          allowance     TAC minus ICA  level longline   cooperatives
                                                       (ICA)                        \1\ fishery         \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.............          22,727           3,000          19,727               5          19,722
Northern rockfish...............           3,027             300           2,727               5           2,722
Dusky rockfish..................           2,688             250           2,438              50           2,388
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................          28,442           3,550          24,892              60          24,832
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (Sec.   679.2).
\2\ Rockfish cooperatives include vessels in CV and CP cooperatives (Sec.   679.81).

    Section 679.81(c) and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679 requires 
allocations of rockfish secondary species to CV and CP cooperatives in 
the Central GOA. CV cooperatives receive allocations of Pacific cod, 
sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. CP 
cooperatives receive allocations of sablefish from the trawl gear 
allocation, rougheye and blackspotted rockfish, shortraker rockfish, 
and thornyhead rockfish. Table 8 lists the apportionments of the 
proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the 
Central GOA to CV and CP cooperatives.

   Table 8--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA to Catcher
                                    Vessel and Catcher/Processor Cooperatives
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Catcher vessel cooperatives   Catcher/processor cooperatives
                                    Central GOA  ---------------------------------------------------------------
   Rockfish secondary species       annual TAC     Percentage of   Apportionment   Percentage of   Apportionment
                                                        TAC            (mt)             TAC            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod.....................           3,806            3.81             145             0.0               0
Sablefish.......................           9,963            6.78             675            3.51             350
Shortraker rockfish.............             284             0.0               0           40.00             114

[[Page 78087]]

 
Rougheye and blackspotted                    455             0.0               0           58.87             268
 rockfish.......................
Thornyhead rockfish.............             911            7.84              71           26.50             241
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut PSC Limits

    Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the 
establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October 2020, the 
Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, halibut PSC limits of 1,706 mt 
for trawl gear, 257 mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the 
demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District for both 2021 
and 2022.
    The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at Sec.  
679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut 
PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish 
(Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(i)(A)). The separate halibut PSC limit for the DSR 
fishery is intended to prevent that fishery from being impacted from 
the halibut PSC incurred by other GOA fisheries. NMFS estimates low 
halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) the duration of the DSR 
fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) the DSR fishery occurs 
in the winter when there is less overlap in the distribution of DSR and 
halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR fishery has a low DSR TAC. 
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the commercial GHL for the 
DSR fishery after deducting (1) estimates of DSR incidental catch in 
all fisheries (including halibut and subsistence); and (2) the 
allocation to the DSR sport fish fishery. In 2020, the commercial 
fishery for DSR was closed due to concerns about declining DSR biomass.
    The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the 
halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes 
to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear 
fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2021 and 
2022. The Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, these exemptions 
because (1) pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch 
mortality; (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if 
any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ 
for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the 
vessel is operating (Sec.  679.7(f)(11)); (3) some sablefish IFQ permit 
holders hold halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain 
the halibut they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ; and (4) NMFS 
estimates negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries given 
the small amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective 
nature of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and 
released with jig gear.
    The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch 
consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2020. The 
calculated halibut bycatch mortality through October 24, 2020 is 756 mt 
for trawl gear and 2 mt for hook-and-line gear, for a total halibut 
mortality of 758 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using 
groundfish and IFQ halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region's 
catch accounting system. This accounting system contains historical and 
recent catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish and IFQ 
halibut fishery.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally 
apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. 
The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the 
following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: 
(1) Seasonal distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal distribution of 
target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution, (3) 
expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes 
in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) 
expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in 
directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of 
fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal 
halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. 
Based on public comment, information presented in the 2019 SAFE report, 
NMFS catch data, State catch data, or International Pacific Halibut 
Commission (IPHC) stock assessment and mortality data, the Council may 
recommend or NMFS may make changes to the seasonal, gear-type, or 
fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC limits for the final 
2021 and 2022 harvest specifications pursuant to Sec.  679.21(d)(1) and 
(d)(4).
    The final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications (85 FR 13802, March 
10, 2020) summarized the Council's and NMFS's findings for these FMP 
and regulatory considerations with respect to halibut PSC limits. The 
Council's and NMFS's proposed findings for these proposed 2021 and 2022 
harvest specifications are unchanged from the final 2020 and 2021 
harvest specifications. Table 9 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 
Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. The halibut 
PSC limits in these tables reflect the halibut PSC limits set forth at 
Sec.  679.21(d)(2) and (3). Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) 
specifies that any underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of 
a halibut PSC limit will be added to or deducted from the next 
respective seasonal apportionment within the fishing year.

[[Page 78088]]



                               Table 9--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific Halibut PSC Limits, Allowances, and Apportionments
                                                               [Values are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Trawl gear                                                             Hook-and-line gear \1\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  Other than DSR                                    DSR
                 Season                    Percent     Amount  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           Season             Percent     Amount             Season              Amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1......................       30.5        519  January 1-June 10..........         86        221  January 1-December 31.....          9
April 1-July 1..........................         20        341  June 10-September 1........          2          5
July 1-August 1.........................         27        462  September 1-December 31....         12         31
August 1-October 1......................        7.5        128
October 1-December 31...................         15        256
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................  .........      1,706  ...........................  .........        257  ..........................          9
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO
  District and to hook-and-line fisheries other than the DSR fishery. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes that the hook-and-line sablefish
  fishery, and the pot and jig gear groundfish fisheries, be exempt from halibut PSC limits.

    Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the 
trawl halibut PSC limit as bycatch allowances to trawl fishery 
categories listed in Sec.  679.21(d)(3)(iii). The annual apportionments 
are based on each category's share of the anticipated halibut bycatch 
mortality during a fishing year and optimization of the total amount of 
groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories 
for the trawl halibut PSC limits are (1) a deep-water species fishery, 
composed of sablefish, rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and 
arrowtooth flounder; and (2) a shallow-water species fishery, composed 
of pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka 
mackerel, skates, and ``other species'' (sharks and octopuses) (Sec.  
679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Halibut mortality incurred while directed fishing 
for skates with trawl gear accrues towards the shallow-water species 
fishery halibut PSC limit (69 FR 26320, May 12, 2004).
    NMFS will combine available trawl halibut PSC limit apportionments 
in part of the second season deep-water and shallow-water species 
fisheries for use in either fishery from May 15 through June 30 (Sec.  
679.21(d)(4)(iii)(D)). This is intended to maintain groundfish harvest 
while minimizing halibut bycatch by these sectors to the extent 
practicable. This provides the trawl gear deep-water and shallow-water 
species fisheries additional flexibility and the incentive to 
participate in fisheries at times of the year that may have lower 
halibut PSC rates relative to other times of the year.
    Table 10 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 seasonal apportionments 
of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl gear deep-water and the 
shallow-water species fisheries.
    Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl 
halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and CP sectors that are 
participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt 
of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to 
the CP sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water 
species fishery's halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment. After the 
combined CV and CP halibut PSC limit allocation of 191 mt to the 
Rockfish Program, 150 mt remains for the trawl deep-water species 
fishery's halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC 
limit allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be re-
apportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries for the last seasonal 
apportionment during the current fishing year to no more than 55 
percent of the unused annual halibut PSC limit apportioned to Rockfish 
Program participants. The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program 
halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use by any person for the 
remainder of the fishing year (Sec.  679.21(d)(4)(iii)(C)).

Table 10--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Apportionment of the Pacific Halibut PSC Limits Between the Trawl Gear Shallow-
                                 Water and Deep-Water Species Fishery Categories
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Season                                Shallow-water  Deep-water \1\       Total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1..............................................             384             135             519
April 1-July 1..................................................              85             256             341
July 1-August 1.................................................             121             341             462
August 1-October 1..............................................              53              75             128
Subtotal, January 20-October 1..................................             643             807           1,450
October 1-December 31 \2\.......................................  ..............  ..............             256
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................  ..............  ..............           1,706
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July
  1 through August 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment.
\2\ There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries during the fifth
  season (October 1 through December 31).


[[Page 78089]]

    Section 679.21(d)(2)(i)(B) requires that the ``other hook-and-line 
fishery'' halibut PSC limit apportionment to vessels using hook-and-
line gear must be apportioned between CVs and CPs in accordance with 
Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these harvest 
specifications. A comprehensive description and example of the 
calculations necessary to apportion the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' 
halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and CP sectors were 
included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 
FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and are not repeated here.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii), the hook-and-line halibut PSC 
limit for the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' is apportioned between 
the CV and CP sectors in proportion to the total Western and Central 
GOA Pacific cod allocations, which vary annually based on the 
proportion of the Pacific cod biomass between the Western, Central, and 
Eastern GOA. Pacific cod is apportioned among these three management 
areas based on the percentage of overall biomass per area, as 
calculated in the 2019 Pacific cod stock assessment. Updated 
information in the final 2019 SAFE report describes this distributional 
calculation, which allocates ABC among GOA regulatory areas on the 
basis of the three most recent stock surveys. For 2021 and 2022, the 
distribution of the total GOA Pacific cod ABC is 32 percent to the 
Western GOA, 59 percent to the Central GOA, and 9 percent to the 
Eastern GOA. Therefore, the calculations made in accordance with Sec.  
679.21(d)(2)(iii) incorporate the most recent information on GOA 
Pacific cod distribution with respect to establishing the annual 
halibut PSC limits for the CV and CP hook-and-line sectors. 
Additionally, the annual halibut PSC limits for both the CV and CP 
sectors of the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' are divided into three 
seasonal apportionments, using seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 
percent, and 12 percent.
    For 2021 and 2022, NMFS proposes annual halibut PSC limits of 144 
mt and 113 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line CP sectors, 
respectively. Table 11 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 apportionments 
of halibut PSC limits between the hook-and-line CV and the hook-and-
line CP sectors of the ``other hook-and-line fishery.''
    No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS will calculate the 
projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the CV or CP 
hook-and-line sectors of the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' for the 
remainder of the year. The projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit 
is made available to the other hook-and-line sector for the remainder 
of that fishing year (Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)), if NMFS determines 
that an additional amount of halibut PSC is necessary for that sector 
to continue its directed fishing operations.

   Table 11--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Apportionments of the ``Other Hook-and-Line Fisheries'' Annual Halibut PSC
              Allowance Between the Hook-and-Line Gear Catcher Vessel and Catcher/Processor Sectors
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Sector
 ``Other than DSR'' allowance    Hook-and-line    Sector annual       Season         Seasonal        seasonal
                                    sector           amount                         percentage        amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
257..........................  Catcher Vessel..             144  January 1-June               86             124
                                                                  10.                          2               3
                                                                 June 10-                     12              17
                                                                  September 1.
                                                                 September 1-
                                                                  December 31.
                               Catcher/                     113  January 1-June               86              97
                                Processor.                        10.                          2               2
                                                                 June 10-                     12              14
                                                                  September 1.
                                                                 September 1-
                                                                  December 31.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch 
rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of 
groundfish catch to project when a fishery's halibut bycatch mortality 
allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental 
catch rates are based on observers' estimates of halibut incidental 
catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion 
of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned 
to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a 
particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the 
estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific 
information available in conjunction with the annual GOA stock 
assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an 
appendix to the annual GOA groundfish SAFE report.
    In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the 
Council's directive. An interagency halibut working group (IPHC, 
Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that 
have undergone review by the Plan Team, the SSC, and the Council. A 
summary of the revised methodology is contained in the GOA proposed 
2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87881, December 6, 2016), 
and the comprehensive discussion of the working group's statistical 
methodology is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR 
working group's revised methodology is intended to improve estimation 
accuracy, transparency, and transferability for calculating DMRs. The 
working group will continue to consider improvements to the methodology 
used to calculate halibut mortality, including potential changes to the 
reference period (the period of data used for calculating the DMRs). 
Future DMRs may change based on additional years of observer sampling, 
which could provide more recent and accurate data and which could 
improve the accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The 
methodology will continue to ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more 
accurately reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different 
sectors of their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors 
to respond with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, 
the DMR for that sector.
    In October 2020, the Council recommended halibut DMRs derived from 
the revised methodology for the proposed 2021 and 2022 DMRs. The 
proposed 2021 and 2022 DMRs use an updated two-year reference period. 
Comparing the proposed 2021 and 2022 DMRs to the final DMRs from the 
final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, the proposed DMR for 
Rockfish Program CVs using non-pelagic trawl gear

[[Page 78090]]

increased to 60 percent from 52 percent, the proposed DMR for non-
Rockfish Program C/Vs using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 69 
percent from 68 percent, the proposed DMR for CPs and motherships using 
non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 84 percent from 75 percent, the 
proposed DMR for CPs using hook-and-line gear increased to 15 percent 
from 11 percent, and the proposed DMR for CPs and CVs using pot gear 
increased to 10 percent from 0 percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 
2021 and 2022 DMRs.

       Table 12--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Discard Mortality Rates for Vessels Fishing in the Gulf of Alaska
                               [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Halibut
                                                                                                      discard
                 Gear                               Sector                 Groundfish fishery     mortality rate
                                                                                                     (percent)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pelagic trawl.........................  Catcher vessel................  All.....................             100
                                        Catcher/processor.............  All.....................             100
Non-pelagic trawl.....................  Catcher vessel................  Rockfish Program........              60
                                        Catcher vessel................  All others..............              69
                                        Mothership and catcher/         All.....................              84
                                         processor.
Hook-and-line.........................  Catcher/processor.............  All.....................              15
                                        Catcher vessel................  All.....................              13
Pot...................................  Catcher vessel and catcher/     All.....................              10
                                         processor.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limits

    Section 679.21(h)(2) establishes separate Chinook salmon PSC limits 
in the Western and Central regulatory areas of the GOA in the trawl 
pollock directed fishery. These limits require that NMFS close directed 
fishing for pollock in the Western and Central GOA if the applicable 
Chinook salmon PSC limit is reached (Sec.  679.21(h)(8)). The annual 
Chinook salmon PSC limits in the trawl pollock directed fishery of 
6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the Central GOA 
are set in Sec.  679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii).
    Section 679.21(h)(3) established an initial annual PSC limit of 
7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock groundfish trawl fisheries in 
the Western and Central GOA. This limit is apportioned among three 
sectors directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock: 
3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl CPs; 1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs 
participating in the Rockfish Program; and 2,700 Chinook salmon to 
trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program (Sec.  
679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will monitor the Chinook salmon PSC in the trawl 
non-pollock GOA groundfish fisheries and close an applicable sector if 
it reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit.
    The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl CPs and trawl 
CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program, may be increased in 
subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and 
their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook salmon 
PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limit its use of 
Chinook salmon PSC to a certain threshold amount in 2020 (3,120 for 
trawl CPs and 2,340 for non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs), that sector 
will receive an increase to its 2021 Chinook salmon PSC limit (4,080 
for trawl CPs and 3,060 for non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs) (Sec.  
679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will evaluate the annual Chinook salmon PSC by 
trawl CPs and non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs when the 2020 fishing year 
is complete to determine whether to increase the Chinook salmon PSC 
limits for these two sectors. Based on preliminary 2020 Chinook salmon 
PSC data, the trawl CP sector may receive an incremental increase of 
Chinook salmon PSC limit in 2021, and the non-Rockfish Program trawl CV 
sector may receive an incremental increase of Chinook salmon PSC limit 
in 2021. This evaluation will be completed in conjunction with the 
final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications.

American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/Processor and Catcher Vessel 
Groundfish Harvest and PSC Limits

    Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing 
sideboard limits on AFA CPs and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits 
are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who 
do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and 
processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges 
under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA CPs and CPs 
designated on a listed AFA CP permit from harvesting any species of 
fish in the GOA. Additionally, Sec.  679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed 
AFA CPs and CPs designated on a listed AFA CP permit from processing 
any pollock harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any 
groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.
    AFA CVs that are less than 125 feet (38.1 meters) length overall, 
have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA 
groundfish from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA CV groundfish 
sideboard limits under Sec.  679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for 
non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest 
levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 
679.64(b)(3)(iv) establishes the CV groundfish sideboard limits in the 
GOA based on the aggregate retained catch by non-exempt AFA CVs of each 
sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that 
species over the same period.
    NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that 
implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA CVs from directed 
fishing for specific groundfish species or species groups subject to 
sideboard limits (Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 56 to 50 CFR part 
679). Sideboard limits not subject to the final rule continue to be 
calculated and included in the GOA annual harvest specifications.
    Table 13 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 groundfish sideboard 
limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or 
incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from 
the sideboard limits listed in Table 13.

[[Page 78091]]



                 Table 13--Proposed 2021 and 2022 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                          Ratio of 1995-                   Proposed 2021
                                                                                                             1997 non-     Proposed 2021   and 2022 non-
                 Species                     Apportionments by season/gear          Area/component         exempt AFA CV   and 2022 TACs   exempt AFA CV
                                                                                                          catch to 1995-        \3\          sideboard
                                                                                                             1997 TAC                          limit
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock..................................  A Season; January 20-May 31.....  Shumagin (610).............          0.6047           1,067             645
                                                                             Chirikof (620).............          0.1167          42,260           4,932
                                                                             Kodiak (630)...............          0.2028           8,354           1,694
                                           B Season; September 1-November 1  Shumagin (610).............          0.6047          18,708          11,313
                                                                             Chirikof (620).............          0.1167          13,899           1,622
                                                                             Kodiak (630)...............          0.2028          19,074           3,868
                                           Annual..........................  WYK (640)..................          0.3495           5,728           2,002
                                                                             SEO (650)..................          0.3495          10,148           3,547
Pacific cod..............................  A Season \1\; January 1-June 10.  W..........................          0.1331           1,323             176
                                                                             C..........................          0.0692           2,440             169
                                           B Season \2\; September 1-        W..........................          0.1331             753             100
                                            December 31.                     C..........................          0.0692           1,366              95
Flatfish, shallow-water..................  Annual..........................  W..........................          0.0156          13,250             207
                                                                             C..........................          0.0587          28,205           1,656
Flatfish, deep-water.....................  Annual..........................  C..........................          0.0647           1,914             124
                                                                             E..........................          0.0128           3,787              48
Rex sole.................................  Annual..........................  C..........................          0.0384           8,912             342
Arrowtooth flounder......................  Annual..........................  C..........................          0.0280          66,683           1,867
Flathead sole............................  Annual..........................  C..........................          0.0213          15,400             328
Pacific ocean perch......................  Annual..........................  C..........................          0.0748          22,727           1,700
                                                                             E..........................          0.0466           5,877             274
Northern rockfish........................  Annual..........................  C..........................          0.0277           3,027              84
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.
\3\ The Western and Central GOA and WYK District area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs.

Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA 
are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA 
CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the 
retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 
(Sec.  679.64(b)(4)(ii)). Table 14 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 
non-exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in 
the GOA.

 Table 14--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Non-Exempt AFA CV Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for Vessels Using Trawl Gear in
                                                     the GOA
                               [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-
                                                                     1997 non-                     Proposed 2021
                                                     Fishery       exempt AFA CV   Proposed 2021   and 2022 non-
            Season               Season dates        category     retained catch   and 2022 PSC    exempt AFA CV
                                                                     to total          limit         PSC limit
                                                                  retained catch
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................  January 20-April  shallow-water..           0.340             384             131
                                1.               deep-water.....           0.070             135               9
2............................  April 1-July 1..  shallow-water..           0.340              85              29
                                                 deep-water.....           0.070             256              18
3............................  July 1-August 1.  shallow-water..           0.340             121              41
                                                 deep-water.....           0.070             341              24
4............................  August 1-October  shallow-water..           0.340              53              18
                                1.               deep-water.....           0.070              75               5
5............................  October 1-        all targets....           0.205             256              52
                                December 31.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Annual                                           Total shallow-   ..............  ..............             219
                                                  water.
                                                ----------------------------------------------------------------
                               ................  Total deep-      ..............  ..............              56
                                                  water.
                                                ----------------------------------------------------------------
                               ................    Grand Total, all seasons and            1,706             328
                                                            categories
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 78092]]

Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Limitations

    Section 680.22 establishes groundfish sideboard limits for vessels 
with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to 
prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by 
the Crab Rationalization (CR) Program to expand their level of 
participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard harvest limits 
restrict these vessels' catch to their collective historical landings 
in each GOA groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish 
fishery). Sideboard limits also apply to landings made using an LLP 
license derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that 
LLP license is used on another vessel.
    The basis for these sideboard harvest limits is described in detail 
in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the CR Program, 
including Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery Management Plan for 
Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) (70 FR 
10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP (76 FR 35772, June 
20, 2011), Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), 
and Amendment 45 to the Crab FMP (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015). Also, 
NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that 
implemented regulations to prohibit non-AFA crab vessels from directed 
fishing for all groundfish species or species groups subject to 
sideboard limits, except for Pacific cod apportioned to CVs using pot 
gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas (Sec.  
680.22(e)(1)(iii)). Accordingly, the GOA annual harvest specifications 
will include only the non-AFA crab vessel groundfish sideboard limits 
for Pacific cod apportioned to CVs using pot gear in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas.
    Table 15 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 groundfish sideboard 
limits for non-AFA crab vessel. All targeted or incidental catch of 
sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP 
licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits.

     Table 15--Proposed 2021 and 2022 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1996-                   Proposed 2021
                                                                   2000 non-AFA                    and 2022 non-
                                                 Area/component/    crab vessel    Proposed 2021     AFA crab
           Species                Season/gear          gear       catch to 1996-   and 2022 TACs      vessel
                                                                    2000 total                       sideboard
                                                                      harvest                          limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod..................  A Season;         Western Pot CV.          0.0997           1,323             132
                                January 1-June   Central Pot CV.          0.0474           2,440             116
                                10.
                               B Season;         Western Pot CV.          0.0997             753              75
                                September 1-     Central Pot CV.          0.0474           1,366              65
                                December 31.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations

    The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard 
provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, CP rockfish sideboard 
restrictions, and CP opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions (Sec.  
679.82(c)(1)). These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of 
rockfish harvesters to expand into other fisheries.
    CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in 
directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and northern 
rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 
through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for 
arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from 
July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(d)).
    CPs participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted 
by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These CPs are prohibited 
from directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and 
northern rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from 
July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(e)(2)). Holders of CP-designated 
LLP licenses that opt out of participating in a Rockfish Program 
cooperative will be able to access that portion of each rockfish 
sideboard limits that is not assigned to Rockfish Program cooperatives 
(Sec.  679.82(e)(7)). The sideboard ratio for each rockfish fishery in 
the Western GOA and West Yakutat District is set forth in Sec.  
679.82(e)(4). Table 16 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 Rockfish 
Program CP rockfish sideboard limits in the Western GOA and West 
Yakutat District. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with 
fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District are 
not displayed.

Table 16--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Rockfish Program Sideboard Limits for the Western GOA and West Yakutat District
                                by Fishery for the Catcher/Processor (CP) Sector
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                              Proposed 2021 and
               Area                      Fishery          CP sector (% of     Proposed 2021   2022 CP sideboard
                                                                TAC)          and 2022 TACs         limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA......................  Dusky rockfish.....  72.3...............             759  549
                                   Pacific ocean perch  50.6...............           1,379  698
                                   Northern rockfish..  74.3...............           1,079  802
West Yakutat District............  Dusky rockfish.....  Confidential \1\...             113  Confidential \1\
                                   Pacific ocean perch  Confidential \1\...           1,410  Confidential \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Not released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS
  and the State of Alaska.


[[Page 78093]]

    Under the Rockfish Program, the CP sector is subject to halibut PSC 
sideboard limits for the trawl deep-water and shallow-water species 
fisheries from July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(e)(3) and (e)(5)). 
Halibut PSC sideboard ratios by fishery are set forth in Sec.  
679.82(e)(5). No halibut PSC sideboard limits apply to the CV sector, 
as vessels participating in a rockfish cooperative receive a portion of 
the annual halibut PSC limit. CPs that opt out of the Rockfish Program 
would be able to access that portion of the deep-water and shallow-
water halibut PSC sideboard limit not assigned to CP rockfish 
cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for CPs that elect to opt out of 
participating in a rockfish cooperative are described in Sec.  
679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are linked to the catch 
history of specific vessels that may choose to opt out. After March 1, 
NMFS will determine which CPs have opted-out of the Rockfish Program in 
2021, and will know the ratios and amounts used to calculate opt-out 
sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any applicable opt-out 
sideboard limits for 2021 and post these limits on the Alaska Region 
website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheries-management-reports#central-goa-rockfish. Table 17 
lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 Rockfish Program halibut PSC sideboard 
limits for the CP sector.

 Table 17--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Rockfish Program Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for the Catcher/Processor Sector
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Shallow-water    Deep-water
                                      species         species                     Annual shallow-  Annual deep-
                                      fishery         fishery                      water species   water species
             Sector                 halibut PSC     halibut PSC   Annual halibut      fishery         fishery
                                     sideboard       sideboard    PSC limit (mt)    halibut PSC     halibut PSC
                                       ratio           ratio                         sideboard       sideboard
                                     (percent)       (percent)                      limit (mt)      limit (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catcher/processor...............            0.10            2.50           1,706               2              43
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Amendment 80 Program Groundfish and PSC Sideboard Limits

    Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) 
established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl CP 
sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut PSC 
limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability of 
participants eligible for the Amendment 80 Program to expand their 
harvest efforts in the GOA.
    Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits 
on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, 
to amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to 50 CFR part 
679. Under Sec.  679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from 
directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky 
rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA.
    Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 
1998 through 2004 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 18 lists the 
proposed 2021 and 2022 groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 
Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of 
sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program vessels from the 
sideboard limits in Table 18.

        Table 18--Proposed 2021 and 2022 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Proposed 2021
                                                                     Ratio of                        and 2022
                                                                   amendment 80    Proposed 2021   Amendment 80
           Species                  Season             Area       sector vessels   and 2022 TAC       vessel
                                                                     1998-2004         (mt)          sideboard
                                                                   catch to TAC                     limits (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season;         Shumagin (610).           0.003           1,067               3
                                January 20-May   Chirikof (620).           0.002          42,260              85
                                31.              Kodiak (630)...           0.002           8,354              17
                               B Season;         Shumagin (610).           0.003          18,708              56
                                September 1-     Chirikof (620).           0.002          13,899              28
                                November 1.      Kodiak (630)...           0.002          19,074              38
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......           0.002           5,728              11
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\;     W..............           0.020           1,323              26
                                January 1-June   C..............           0.044           2,440             107
                                10.
                               B Season \2\;     W..............           0.020             753              15
                                September 1-     C..............           0.044           1,366              60
                                December 31.
                               Annual..........  WYK............           0.034             549              19
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............           0.994           1,379           1,371
                                                 WYK............           0.961           1,410           1,355
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............           1.000           1,079           1,079
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............           0.764             759             580
                                                 WYK............           0.896             113             101
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.


[[Page 78094]]

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
in the GOA are based on the historical use of halibut PSC by Amendment 
80 Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. 
These values are slightly lower than the average historical use to 
accommodate two factors: allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota 
under the Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden Fleece 
from this restriction (Sec.  679.92(b)(2)). Table 19 lists the proposed 
2021 and 2022 halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program 
vessels. These tables incorporate the maximum percentages of the 
halibut PSC sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 Program 
vessels as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679. Any residual 
amount of a seasonal Amendment 80 halibut PSC sideboard limit may carry 
forward to the next season limit (Sec.  679.92(b)(2)).

    Table 19--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels in the GOA
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Historic                      Proposed 2021
                                                                   Amendment 80    Proposed 2021     and 2022
                                                     Fishery        use of the       and 2022      Amendment 80
            Season               Season dates        category     annual halibut    annual PSC      vessel PSC
                                                                     PSC limit      limit (mt)       sideboard
                                                                      (ratio)                       limit (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................  January 20 -      shallow-water..          0.0048           1,706               8
                                April 1.         deep-water.....          0.0115           1,706              20
2............................  April 1-July 1..  shallow-water..          0.0189           1,706              32
                                                 deep-water.....          0.1072           1,706             183
3............................  July 1-August 1.  shallow-water..          0.0146           1,706              25
                                                 deep-water.....          0.0521           1,706              89
4............................  August 1-October  shallow-water..          0.0074           1,706              13
                                1.               deep-water.....          0.0014           1,706               2
5............................  October 1-        shallow-water..          0.0227           1,706              39
                                December 31.     deep-water.....          0.0371           1,706              63
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Annual                                           Total shallow-   ..............  ..............             117
                                                  water.
                              ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Total deep-      ..............  ..............             357
                                                  water.
                              ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    Grand Total, all seasons and categories                  474
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Classification

    NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are 
consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed 
harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment.
    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared an EIS for the Alaska groundfish harvest 
specifications and alternative harvest strategies (see ADDRESSES) and 
made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On 
February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the ROD for the Final EIS. A SIR is 
being prepared for the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications to 
provide a subsequent assessment of the action and to address the need 
to prepare a Supplemental EIS (40 CFR 1501.11(b); Sec.  1502.9(d)(1)). 
Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and annual SIRs for this action are 
available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the 
environmental, social, and economic consequences of the proposed 
groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on 
resources in the action area. Based on the analysis in the Final EIS, 
NMFS concluded that the preferred Alternative (Alternative 2) provides 
the best balance among relevant environmental, social, and economic 
considerations and allows for continued management of the groundfish 
fisheries based on the most recent, best scientific information.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    This Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was prepared 
for this proposed rule, as required by Section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 603), to describe the economic impact 
that this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. The 
IRFA describes the action; the reasons why this proposed rule is 
proposed; the objectives and legal basis for this proposed rule; the 
estimated number and description of directly regulated small entities 
to which this proposed rule would apply; the recordkeeping, reporting, 
and other compliance requirements of this proposed rule; and the 
relevant Federal rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with 
this proposed rule. The IRFA also describes significant alternatives to 
this proposed rule that would accomplish the stated objectives of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and any other applicable statutes, and that would 
minimize any significant economic impact of this proposed rule on small 
entities. The description of the proposed action, its purpose, and the 
legal basis are explained earlier in the preamble and are not repeated 
here.
    For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size 
standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary 
industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily 
engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has 
combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its 
affiliated operations worldwide. A shoreside processor primarily 
involved in seafood processing (NAICS code 311710) is

[[Page 78095]]

classified as a small business if it is independently owned and 
operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its 
affiliates), and has combined annual employment, counting all 
individuals employed on a full-time, part-time, or other basis, not in 
excess of 750 employees for all its affiliated operations worldwide.

Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by This Proposed 
Rule

    The entities directly regulated by the groundfish harvest 
specifications include: a) entities operating vessels with groundfish 
Federal fisheries permits (FFPs) catching FMP groundfish in Federal 
waters (including those receiving direction allocations of groundfish); 
b) all entities operating vessels, regardless of whether they hold 
groundfish FFPs, catching FMP groundfish in the state-waters parallel 
fisheries; and c) all entities operating vessels fishing for halibut 
inside three miles of the shore (whether or not they have FFPs).
    In 2019 (the most recent year of complete data), there were 871 
individual CVs and CPs with gross revenues less than or equal to $11 
million. This estimate does not account for corporate affiliations 
among vessels, and for cooperative affiliations among fishing entities, 
since some of the fishing vessels operating in the GOA are members of 
AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI CR 
Program cooperatives. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives 
are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA 
because the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members 
exceed the $11 million threshold. After accounting for membership in 
these cooperatives, there are an estimated 812 small CV and 5 small CP 
entities remaining in the GOA groundfish sector. However, the estimate 
of these 817 CVs may be an overstatement of the number of small 
entities. This latter group of vessels had average gross revenues that 
varied by gear type. Average gross revenues for hook-and-line CVs, pot 
gear CVs, trawl gear CVs, and hook-and-line CPs are estimated to be 
$350,000, $780,000, $1.6 million, and $2.9 million, respectively.

Description of Significant Alternatives That Minimize Adverse Impacts 
on Small Entities

    The action under consideration is the proposed 2021 and 2022 
harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited 
species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the GOA. This action 
is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2021 
and 2022 fishing years and is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared 
by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The establishment 
of the proposed harvest specifications is governed by the Council's 
harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the GOA. This 
strategy was selected from among five alternatives, with the preferred 
alternative harvest strategy being one in which the TACs fall within 
the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC. Under the preferred harvest 
strategy, TACs are set to a level that falls within the range of ABCs 
recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY 
specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the harvest 
strategy produces may vary from year to year, the methodology used for 
the preferred harvest strategy remains constant.
    The TACs associated with preferred harvest strategy are those 
recommended by the Council in October 2020. OFLs and ABCs for the 
species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council's Plan 
Team in September 2020, and reviewed by the Council's SSC in October 
2020. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, 
which were consistent with the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations. The 
2021 TACs in these proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications are 
unchanged from the 2021 TACs in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest 
specifications (85 FR 13802; March 10, 2020), and the sum of all TACs 
remains within OY for the GOA.
    The proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs and ABCs are based on the best 
available biological information, including projected biomass trends, 
information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised 
technical methods to calculate stock biomass. The proposed 2021 and 
2022 TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic 
information. The proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are 
consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as 
described in the 2019 SAFE report, which is the most recent, completed 
SAFE report.
    Under this action, the proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that 
are less than the specified overfishing levels. The proposed TACs are 
within the range of proposed ABCs recommended by the SSC and do not 
exceed the biological limits recommended by the SSC (the ABCs and 
overfishing levels). For most species and species groups in the GOA, 
the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, TACs equal to proposed 
ABCs, which is intended to maximize harvest opportunities in the GOA.
    For some species and species groups, however, the Council 
recommended and NMFS proposes TACs that are less than the proposed 
ABCs, including for pollock in the W/C/WYK Regulatory Area, Pacific 
cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western Regulatory Area, arrowtooth 
flounder, flathead sole in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 
and Atka mackerel. In the GOA, increasing TACs for some species may not 
result in increased harvest opportunities for those species. This is 
due to a variety of reasons. There may be a lack of commercial or 
market interest in some species. Additionally, there are fixed, and 
therefore constraining, PSC limits associated with the harvest of the 
GOA groundfish species that can lead to an underharvest of flatfish 
TACs. For this reason, the shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, 
and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for increased harvest 
opportunities for these target species while conserving the halibut PSC 
limit for use in other fisheries. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to 
accommodate incidental catch amounts in other fisheries. Finally, the 
TACs for two species (pollock and Pacific cod) cannot be set equal to 
ABC, as the TAC must be reduced to account for the State's GHLs in 
these fisheries. The W/C/WYK Regulatory Area pollock TAC and the GOA 
Pacific cod TACs are therefore set to account for the State's GHLs for 
the State water pollock and Pacific cod fisheries so that the ABCs are 
not exceeded. The proposed GOA Pacific cod TACs also include a further 
reduction implemented in the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications as an 
additional conservation measure due to the stock's projected 2020 
spawning biomass. For most species in the GOA, the Council recommended, 
and NMFS proposes, that proposed TACs equal proposed ABCs, unless other 
conservation or management reasons support proposed TAC amounts less 
than the proposed ABCs.
    Based upon the best available scientific data, and in consideration 
of the Council's objectives of this action, it appears that there are 
no significant alternatives to the proposed rule that have the 
potential to accomplish the

[[Page 78096]]

stated objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and any other applicable 
statutes and that have the potential to minimize any significant 
adverse economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. This 
action is economically beneficial to entities operating in the GOA, 
including small entities. The action proposes TACs for commercially-
valuable species in the GOA and allows for the continued prosecution of 
the fishery, thereby creating the opportunity for fishery revenue. 
After public process during which the Council solicited input from 
stakeholders, the Council concluded that the proposed harvest 
specifications would best accomplish the stated objectives articulated 
in the preamble for this proposed rule, and in applicable statutes, and 
would minimize to the extent practicable adverse economic impacts on 
the universe of directly regulated small entities.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal 
rules.
    This proposed rule contains no information collection requirements 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
    Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered or threatened 
species resulting from fishing activities conducted under these harvest 
specifications are discussed in the Final EIS and its accompanying 
annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES).

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 
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 25, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-26592 Filed 12-1-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P