Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2021 and 2022 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 78096-78112 [2020-26598]

Download as PDF 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 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules Act allocations; Amendment 80 allocations; Community Development Quota (CDQ) reserve amounts established by § 679.20(b)(1)(ii); and acceptable biological catch (ABC) surpluses and reserves for CDQ groups and Amendment 80 cooperatives for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 15 of this action satisfy these requirements. 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 121 to the FMP: Reclassify Sculpins as an Ecosystem Component Species On July 10, 2020, NMFS published the final rule to implement Amendment 121 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), ABC, and TAC for sculpins in the BSAI groundfish harvest specifications, beginning with these proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications. Amendment 121 prohibits directed fishing for sculpins, while maintaining recordkeeping and reporting requirements for sculpins. Amendment 121 also establishes a maximum retainable amount for sculpins when directed fishing for groundfish species at 20 percent to discourage targeting sculpin species. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 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 areas. However, a new apportionment methodology is being considered that could affect the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 apportionment of sablefish ABC, as well as TACs and gear allocations between the trawl and fixed gear sectors, specified in future BSAI 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. State of Alaska Guideline Harvest Levels For 2021 and 2022, the Board of Fisheries (BOF) for the State of Alaska (State) established the guideline harvest level (GHL) for vessels using pot gear in State waters in the Bering Sea subarea (BS). The 2020 BS GHL was set at 9 percent of the 2020 BS ABC (85 FR 13553; March 9, 2020). The State’s pot gear BS GHL will increase one percent annually up to 15 percent of the BS ABC, if at least 90 percent of the GHL is harvested by November 15 of the preceding year. In 2020, 90 percent of the GHL has been harvested by November 15, 2020, which triggers a one percent increase in the GHL in 2021 and results in a 2021 GHL of 10 percent of the Pacific cod proposed BS ABC. If at least 90 percent of the 2021 BS GHL is not harvested by November 15, 2021, then the 2022 BS GHL will remain at the same percent (10 percent) as the 2021 BS GHL. If 90 percent of the 2021 BS GHL is harvested by November 15, 2021, then the 2022 BS GHL will increase by one percent and the 2022 BS TAC will be set to account for the increased BS GHL. Also, for 2021 and 2022, the BOF established an additional GHL for vessels using jig gear in State waters in the BS equal to 45 mt of Pacific cod. The Council and its BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team), Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Advisory Panel (AP) recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the BS not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations for Pacific cod in the BS. Accordingly, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, that the 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs in the BS account for the State’s GHLs for Pacific cod caught in State waters. For 2021 and 2022, the BOF for the State established the GHL in State waters in the Aleutian Islands subarea (AI). The 2020 AI GHL was set at 35 percent of the 2020 AI ABC (85 FR 13553; March 9, 2020). The AI GHL will increase annually by 4 percent of the AI ABC, if 90 percent of the GHL is harvested by November 15 of the preceding year, but may not exceed 39 PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 78097 percent of the AI ABC or 15 million pounds (6,804 mt). In 2020, 90 percent of the GHL has been harvested by November 15, 2020, which triggers a 4 percent increase in the GHL in 2021; however, 39 percent of the proposed 2021 and 2022 AI ABC is 8,034 mt, which exceeds the AI GHL limit of 6,804 mt. The Council and its Plan Team, SSC, and AP recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the AI not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations for Pacific cod in the AI. Accordingly, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, that the 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs in the AI account for the State’s GHL of 6,804 mt for Pacific cod caught in State waters. Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications In October 2020, the Council’s SSC, its AP, and the Council reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Plan Team compiled and presented this information in the final 2019 SAFE report for the BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2019 (see ADDRESSES). The final 2020 SAFE report will be available from the same source. The proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications are based on the final 2021 harvest specifications published in March 2020 (85 FR 13553; March 9, 2020), which were set after consideration of the most recent 2019 SAFE report, and are based on the initial survey data that were presented at the September 2020 Plan Team meeting. The proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications in this action are subject to change in the final harvest specifications to be published by NMFS following the Council’s December 2020 meeting. Many of the scheduled 2020 Gulf of Alaska (GOA) and BSAI groundfish and ecosystem surveys were cancelled or modified, although 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 and eastern Bering Sea (EBS), including the EBS trawl survey and a northern Bering Sea trawl survey. The stock assessment process is adaptable to the changes in availability of survey data, as many surveys only are conducted periodically, rather than annually, and any changes relevant to E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78098 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules the stock assessment process will be addressed in the final SAFE report. 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 comments in making its recommendations for the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 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 or the models’ results used for producing stock assessments. Any changes to models used in stock assessments will be recommended by the Plan Team in November 2020 and then included in the final 2020 SAFE report. Model changes can result in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs. The final 2020 SAFE report will include the most recent information, such as catch data. The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not expected to vary greatly from these proposed harvest specification amounts. If the 2020 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications 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. In addition to changes driven by biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 ABCs exceeding 2 million mt. Since the regulations require TACs to be set to an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan Team and the SSC, if setting all TACs equal to ABCs would cause the sum of TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt. Generally, total ABCs greatly exceed 2 million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. For both 2021 and 2022, NMFS anticipates that the sum of the final ABCs will exceed 2 million mt. NMFS expects that the final TACs for the BSAI for both 2021 and 2022 will equal 2 million mt each year. 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 a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 represents the highest level of information quality available, while Tier 6 represents the lowest. The proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information. In October 2020, the SSC adopted the proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. The OFL and ABC amounts are, for the most part, unchanged from the final 2021 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on March 9, 2020 (85 FR 13553). However, the OFL and ABC for rock sole was increased because a data file error was discovered in the 2019 stock assessment. Also, sculpins have been reclassified 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 (85 FR 41427; July 10, 2020). Therefore, starting with these proposed harvest specifications, the OFL, ABC, and TAC for sculpins will no longer be set in the BSAI harvest specifications. The 5,000 mt that had been specified for the 2021 sculpin TAC has been distributed among AI Greenland turbot, BSAI Kamchatka flounder, BSAI Alaska plaice, Bering Sea and Eastern Aleutian Islands (BS/ PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 EAI) blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, BSAI sharks, and BSAI octopuses. The sum of the proposed 2021 and 2022 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 2,984,164 mt. The sum of the proposed TACs is 2,000,000 mt. Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs that are equal to the proposed ABCs for 2021 and 2022 BS sablefish, Central AI Atka mackerel, BS and Eastern AI Atka mackerel, BS Pacific ocean perch, Central AI Pacific ocean perch, Eastern AI Pacific ocean perch, Central AI and Western AI blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, and AI ‘‘other rockfish.’’ The Council recommended proposed TACs less than the respective proposed ABCs for all other species. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY. The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change pending the completion of the final 2020 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications during its December 2020 meeting. These proposed 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 have been adjusted for other biological information and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the entire TAC within the required OY range. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, the Council could recommend adjusting the final TACs if ‘‘warranted on the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to fall within the OY range.’’ Table 1 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts among fisheries and seasons is discussed below. E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules 78099 TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] Proposed 2021 and 2022 Species ITAC 2 CDQ 3 4 OFL ABC TAC BS ....................................... AI ........................................ Bogoslof .............................. BS ....................................... AI ........................................ Alaska-wide ........................ BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI .................................... BSAI .................................... BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI .................................... BSAI .................................... BSAI .................................... BSAI .................................... BSAI .................................... BSAI .................................... BSAI .................................... BS ....................................... EAI ...................................... CAI ...................................... WAI ..................................... BSAI .................................... BSAI .................................... 3,385,000 70,970 183,080 125,734 27,400 64,765 n/a n/a 287,943 10,006 n/a n/a 86,647 11,472 251,800 86,432 36,500 21,824 56,589 n/a n/a n/a n/a 19,070 1,090 1,767,000 58,384 137,310 102,975 20,600 n/a 2,865 3,891 261,497 8,510 7,429 1,081 73,804 9,688 245,400 71,079 30,700 16,368 46,885 13,600 10,619 7,817 14,849 15,683 899 1,450,000 19,000 75 92,633 13,796 n/a 2,865 2,500 168,900 5,795 5,125 670 10,000 7,116 49,000 24,000 24,000 5,000 42,036 13,600 10,619 7,817 10,000 10,000 439 1,305,000 17,100 75 82,721 12,320 n/a 1,218 531 150,828 4,926 4,356 570 8,500 6,049 43,757 21,432 20,400 4,250 36,953 11,560 9,483 6,981 8,930 8,500 373 145,000 1,900 ........................ 9,912 1,476 n/a 107 47 18,072 n/a 548 ........................ 1,070 ........................ 5,243 2,568 ........................ ........................ n/a ........................ 1,136 836 1,070 ........................ ........................ Skates ................................. Sharks ................................. Octopuses ........................... BS/EAI ................................ CAI/WAI .............................. BSAI .................................... BSAI .................................... BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI .................................... EAI/BS ................................ CAI ...................................... WAI ..................................... BSAI .................................... BSAI .................................... BSAI .................................... n/a n/a 722 1,793 n/a n/a 74,800 n/a n/a n/a 48,289 689 4,769 560 339 541 1,344 956 388 64,400 22,540 13,524 28,336 40,248 517 3,576 100 339 375 1,088 700 388 54,482 22,540 13,524 18,418 16,000 200 700 85 288 319 925 595 330 48,652 20,128 12,077 16,447 13,600 170 595 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 5,830 2,412 1,447 1,971 ........................ ........................ ........................ Total ............................. ............................................. 4,857,384 2,984,164 2,000,000 1,789,193 194,816 Pollock 4 .............................. Pacific cod 5 ........................ Sablefish ............................. Yellowfin sole ...................... Greenland turbot ................. Arrowtooth flounder ............ Kamchatka flounder ............ Rock sole 6 .......................... Flathead sole 7 .................... Alaska plaice ....................... Other flatfish 8 ..................... Pacific Ocean perch ........... Northern rockfish ................ Blackspotted/ Rougheyerockfish 10. Shortraker rockfish .............. Other rockfish 10 .................. Atka mackerel ..................... khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Area 1 These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these harvest specifications, the Bering Sea subarea (BS) includes the Bogoslof District. 2 Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a non-specified reserve. The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80 species, ITAC is the non-CDQ allocation of TAC (see footnote 3 and 4). 3 For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 10.7 percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea Greenland turbot and BSAI arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). The 2021 hook-and-line or pot gear portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications. Aleutian Islands Greenland turbot, ‘‘other flatfish,’’ Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, ‘‘other rockfish,’’ skates, sharks, and octopuses are not allocated to the CDQ Program. 4 Under § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual BS pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (3.9 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: inshore–50 percent; catcher/processor–40 percent; and motherships–10 percent. Under § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. 5 The BS Pacific cod TAC is set to account for the 10 percent, plus 45 mt, of the BS ABC for the State of Alaska’s (State) guideline harvest level in State waters of the BS. The AI Pacific cod TAC is set to account for 39 percent of the AI ABC for the State guideline harvest level in State waters of the AI, unless the State guideline harvest level would exceed 15 million pounds (6,804 mt), in which case the TAC is set to account for the maximum authorized State guideline harvest level of 6,804 mt. 6 ‘‘Rock sole’’ includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole). 7 ‘‘Flathead sole’’ includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder). 8 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 9 ‘‘Blackspotted/Rougheye rockfish’’ includes Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted) and Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye). 10 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, dark rockfish, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and blackspotted/rougheye rockfish. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78100 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2 (BSAI = Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area, BS = Bering Sea subarea, AI = Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI = Eastern Aleutian district, CAI = Central Aleutian district, WAI = Western Aleutian district.) Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and AI Pacific Ocean Perch Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the TAC for each target species category (except for pollock, hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species) in a non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that NMFS allocate 20 percent of the hookand-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve for each subarea. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires that NMFS allocate 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of BS Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder TACs to the respective CDQ reserves. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires that NMFS allocate 10.7 percent of the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the respective CDQ reserves. Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) require allocation of 10 percent of the BS pollock TAC to the pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance (DFA). Sections 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and 679.31(a) require 10 percent of the AI pollock TAC be allocated to the pollock CDQ DFA. The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(ii) because the Bogoslof District is closed to directed fishing for pollock by regulation (§ 679.22(a)(7)(B)). With the exception of the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ reserves by gear. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 3.9 percent or 50,895 mt of the BS pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS’s examination of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2000 through 2020. During this 21-year period, the pollock incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.2 percent in 2006 to a high of 4.6 percent in 2014, with a 21-year average of 3 percent. Pursuant to §§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 14 percent or 2,400 mt of the AI pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS’s examination of the pollock VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2020. During this 18-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2014, with an 18-year average of 8 percent. Pursuant to §§ 679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 3,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 4,000 mt of yellowfin sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 60 mt of Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 20 mt of Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka mackerel, and 800 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and BS Atka mackerel, after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserves. These ICAs are based on NMFS’s examination of the average incidental catch in other target fisheries from 2003 through 2020. The remainder of the non-specified reserve are not designated by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be apportioned to a target species that contributed to the nonspecified reserve during the year, provided that such apportionments are consistent with § 679.20(a)(3) and do not result in overfishing (see § 679.20(b)(1)(i)). Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA) Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that BS pollock TAC be apportioned as a DFA, after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ Program and 3.9 percent for the ICA, as follows: 50 percent to the inshore sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor (CP) sector, and 10 percent to the mothership sector. In the BS, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20 to June 10), and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (§§ 679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)(1) and 679.23(e)(2)). The AI directed pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock TAC remaining in the AI after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent), and 2,400 mt for the ICA (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)). In the AI, the total A season apportionment of the pollock TAC (including the AI directed fishery allocation, the CDQ DFA, and the ICA) may equal up to 40 percent of the ABC for AI pollock, and the remainder of the pollock TAC is allocated to the B season PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(3)). Table 2 lists these proposed 2021 and 2022 amounts. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 15 percent of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent of the AI pollock ABC. Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) includes several specific requirements regarding BS pollock allocations. First, it requires that 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the CP sector be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels (CVs) with CP sector endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that allows the distribution of harvest among AFA CPs and AFA CVs in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA CPs not listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the CP sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 13, 14, and 15 list the AFA CP and CV harvesting sideboard limits. The BS inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations are based on the submission of AFA inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2021 have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS therefore cannot calculate 2021 allocations, NMFS has not included inshore cooperative tables in these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2021 AFA inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheriesmanagement-reports prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2021, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at § 679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the annual pollock DFA before 12:00 noon, April 1, as provided in § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules apportioned to each sector in proportion 78101 to each sector’s allocated percentage of the DFA. TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] 2021 and 2022 allocations Area and sector Bering Sea subarea TAC ................................................................................ CDQ DFA ......................................................................................................... ICA 1 ................................................................................................................. Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ) ................................................................... AFA Inshore ..................................................................................................... AFA Catcher/Processors 3 ........................................................................ Catch by CPs ........................................................................................... Catch by CVs 3 ......................................................................................... Unlisted CP Limit 4 ............................................................................. AFA Motherships ............................................................................................. Excessive Harvesting Limit 5 ............................................................................ Excessive Processing Limit 6 ........................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea ABC ......................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea TAC ......................................................................... CDQ DFA ......................................................................................................... ICA ................................................................................................................... Aleut Corporation ............................................................................................. Area harvest limit 7 ........................................................................................... 541 ............................................................................................................ 542 ............................................................................................................ 543 ............................................................................................................ Bogoslof District ICA 8 ...................................................................................... 1,450,000 145,000 50,895 1,254,105 627,053 501,642 459,002 42,640 2,508 125,411 219,468 376,232 58,384 19,000 1,900 2,400 14,700 n/a 17,515 8,758 2,919 75 A season 1 A season DFA n/a 65,250 n/a 564,347 282,174 225,739 206,551 19,188 1,129 56,435 n/a n/a n/a n/a 760 1,200 14,700 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a B season 1 SCA harvest limit 2 n/a 40,600 n/a 351,149 175,575 140,460 n/a n/a n/a 35,115 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a B season DFA n/a 79,750 n/a 689,758 344,879 275,903 252,451 23,452 1,380 68,976 n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,140 1,200 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (3.9 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: inshore sector–50 percent, catcher/processor sector (CPs)–40 percent, and mothership sector–10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20–June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10–November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) through (iii), the annual Aleutian Islands subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second for the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the Aleutian Islands subarea, the A season is allocated up to 40 percent of the AI pollock ABC. 2 In the Bering Sea subarea, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C), no more than 28 percent of each sector’s annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1. 3 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed CPs shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels with a CP endorsement delivering to listed CPs, unless there is a CP sector cooperative for the year. 4 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted CPs are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the C/P sector’s allocation of pollock. 5 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 6 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 7 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. 8 Pursuant to § 679.22(a)(7)(B), the Bogoslof District is closed to directed fishing for pollock. The amounts specified are for incidental catch only and are not apportioned by season or sector. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and non-trawl gear sectors, and the jig gear allocation (Table 3). The percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel TAC may be allocated to vessels using jig gear. The percent of this allocation is recommended annually by the Council VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 based on several criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, a 0.5 percent allocation of the Atka mackerel TAC in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2021 and 2022. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies Atka mackerel seasons to trawl CDQ Atka mackerel PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 fishing. The ICA and jig gear allocations are not apportioned by season. Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limit Atka mackerel catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nmi of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located west of 178° W longitude to no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543, and equally divides the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires that the annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be prohibited from being E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78102 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nmi of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located in Areas 541, 542, and 543.Table 3 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 Atka mackerel season allowances, area allowances, and the sector allocations. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2021 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2021. The 2022 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2021. NMFS will post the 2022 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2022, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCES, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE (ICA), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] 2021 and 2022 allocation by area Eastern Aleutian District/Bering Sea Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 TAC ................................................................. CDQ reserve ................................................... n/a .................................................................. Total ............................................................... A ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. B ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. n/a .................................................................. Total ............................................................... Total ............................................................... Total ............................................................... A ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. B ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. 22,540 2,412 1,206 n/a 1,206 n/a 20,128 800 97 1,923 962 n/a 962 n/a 13,524 1,447 724 434 724 434 12,077 75 Total ............................................................... A ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. B ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. 17,308 8,654 n/a 8,654 n/a 10,802 5,401 3,241 5,401 3,241 non-CDQ TAC ................................................. ICA .................................................................. Jig 6 ................................................................. BSAI trawl limited access ............................... Amendment 80 ................................................ Central Aleutian District 5 Western Aleutian District 5 18,418 1,971 985 591 985 591 16,447 20 1,200 600 360 600 360 16,427 8,214 4,928 8,214 4,928 1 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs, and the jig gear allocation, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and § 679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). 2 Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery. 3 The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. 4 Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31. 5 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to be caught inside of Steller sea lion critical habitat; § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3); and § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires that the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC in Area 543. 6 Sections 679.2 and 679.20(a)(8)(i) require that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserve and ICA. The proposed amount of this allocation for 2021 and 2022 is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC The Council separated BS and AI subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for Pacific cod in 2014 (79 FR 12108; March 4, 2014). Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC to the CDQ Program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector allocations. If the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be reached in either the BS or the AI subareas, NMFS VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:56 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 will prohibit directed fishing for nonCDQ Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in § 679.20(d)(1)(iii). Sections 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate to the non-CDQ sectors the combined BSAI Pacific cod TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ Program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent to hook-and-line or pot CVs less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line CVs greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line CPs, 8.4 percent to pot CVs greater than or equal PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot CPs, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl CPs, 13.4 percent to the Amendment 80 sector, and 22.1 percent to trawl CVs. The BSAI ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. For 2021 and 2022, the Regional Administrator proposes a BSAI ICA of 400 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries. The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector is E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and § 679.91. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2021 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2021. The 2022 allocations for Pacific cod between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2021. NMFS will post the 2022 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2022, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The sector allocations of Pacific cod are apportioned into seasonal allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see §§ 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B), 679.20 (a)(7)(iv)(A), and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with §§ 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a Pacific cod seasonal allowance for any sector, except the jig sector, will become available at the beginning of that sector’s next seasonal allowance. Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires that the Regional Administrator establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 as determined by the annual stock assessment process. Based on the 2019 stock assessment, the Regional Administrator has preliminarily determined for 2021 and 2022 that the estimated amount of Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 is 15.7 percent of total AI abundance. NMFS will first subtract the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod ABC. Then NMFS will determine the harvest limit in Area 543 by multiplying the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543 (15.7 percent) by the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod. Based on these calculations, which rely on the 2019 stock assessment, the proposed 78103 Area 543 harvest limit is 2,166 mt. However, the final Area 543 harvest limit could change if the Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 changes based on the stock assessment in the final 2020 SAFE report. On March 21, 2019, the final rule adopting Amendment 113 to the FMP (81 FR 84434; November 23, 2016) was vacated by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Groundfish Forum v. Ross, No. 16–2495 (D.D.C. March 21, 2019)), and the corresponding regulations implementing Amendment 113 are no longer in effect. Therefore, this proposed rule is not specifying amounts for the AI Pacific Cod Catcher Vessel Harvest Set-Aside Program (see § 679.20(a)(7)(viii)). Table 4 lists the CDQ and non-CDQ seasonal allowances by gear based on the proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs; the sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at §§ 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and (a)(7)(iv)(A); and the seasons set forth at § 679.23(e)(5). TABLE 4–PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 SECTOR ALLOCATIONS AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI 1 PACIFIC COD TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Sector Percent 2021 and 2022 share of gear sector total 2021 and 2022 share of sector total Total Bering Sea TAC ....................... Bering Sea CDQ ............................... Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC ............... Total Aleutian Islands TAC ............... Aleutian Islands CDQ ....................... Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC ........ Western Aleutians Islands Limit ....... Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC 1 .............. Total hook-and-line/pot gear ............. Hook-and-line/pot ICA 2 .................... Hook-and-line/pot sub-total ............... Hook-and-line catcher/processors .... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 100 61 n/a n/a 49 92,633 9,912 82,721 13,796 1,476 12,320 2,166 95,041 57,785 n/a 57,385 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 400 n/a 45,965 Hook-and-line catcher vessels ≥60 ft LOA. Pot catcher/processors ..................... 0 n/a 189 2 n/a 1,416 Pot catcher vessels ≥60 ft LOA ........ 8 n/a 7,928 Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. Trawl catcher vessels ....................... 2 n/a 1,888 22 21,004 n/a AFA trawl catcher/processors ........... 2 2,186 n/a Amendment 80 .................................. 13 12,736 n/a VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 2021 and 2022 seasonal apportionment Season Amount n/a .................................................... See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) ................... n/a .................................................... n/a .................................................... See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) ................... n/a .................................................... n/a .................................................... n/a .................................................... n/a .................................................... n/a .................................................... n/a .................................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................... Jun 10–Dec 31 ................................. Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................... Jun 10–Dec 31 ................................. Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................... Sept 1–Dec 31 ................................. Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................... Sept 1–Dec 31 ................................. n/a .................................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 23,442 22,523 96 92 722 694 4,043 3,885 n/a Jan 20–Apr 1 .................................... Apr 1–Jun 10 .................................... Jun 10–Nov 1 ................................... Jan 20–Apr 1 .................................... Apr 1–Jun 10 .................................... Jun 10–Nov 1 ................................... Jan 20–Apr 1 .................................... Apr 1–Jun 10 .................................... Jun 10–Dec 31 ................................. 15,543 2,310 3,151 1,639 546 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 9,552 3,184 78104 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules TABLE 4–PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 SECTOR ALLOCATIONS AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI 1 PACIFIC COD TAC—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector Percent Jig ...................................................... 2021 and 2022 share of gear sector total 2021 and 2022 share of sector total 1,331 n/a 1 2021 and 2022 seasonal apportionment Season Amount Jan 1–Apr 30 .................................... Apr 30–Aug 31 ................................. Aug 31–Dec 31 ................................ 798 266 266 1 The non-CDQ sector allocations and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod nonCDQ TACs, after subtraction of the reserve for the CDQ Program. If the non-CDQ TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for the non-CDQ sectors will be prohibited for Pacific cod in that subarea, even if a BSAI allowance remains. 2 The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 400 mt for 2021 and 2022 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries. Sablefish Gear Allocation Sections 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of sablefish TAC for the BS and AI between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the sablefish TAC for the BS are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TAC for the AI are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that NMFS apportion 20 percent of the hook- and-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish TAC to the CDQ reserve for each subarea. Also, § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish TAC from the non-specified reserve, established under § 679.20(b)(1)(i), be apportioned to the CDQ reserve. The Council recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-andline or pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries are limited to the 2021 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries reduce the potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries remain closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts. TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 GEAR SHARES AND CDQ RESERVE OF BSAI SABLEFISH TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] Subarea and gear Percent of TAC Bering Sea: Trawl ..................... Hook-and-line gear/pot 2 ........... 2021 Share of TAC 2021 ITAC 1 2021 CDQ reserve 2022 Share of TAC 2022 ITAC 2022 CDQ reserve 50 1,433 1,218 107 1,433 1,218 107 50 1,433 n/a 287 n/a n/a n/a Total ............... Aleutian Islands: Trawl ..................... Hook-and-line gear/pot 2 ........... 100 2,865 1,218 394 1,433 1,218 107 25 625 531 47 625 531 47 75 1,875 n/a 375 n/a n/a n/a Total ............... 100 2,500 531 422 625 531 47 1 For khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using trawl gear, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the non-specified reserve (§ 679.20(b)(1)(i)). The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after subtracting these reserves. In the BS and AI, 7.5 percent of the trawl non-specified reserve is assigned to the CDQ reserves (§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1)). 2 For the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B)). The Council recommended that specifications for the hook-and-line and pot gear sablefish IFQ fisheries be limited to one year. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Allocation of the AI Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs Sections 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs between the Amendment 80 sector and the BSAI trawl limited access sector, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 CDQ reserves and amounts for ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91. PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2021 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2021. The 2022 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2021. NMFS will post the 2022 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainable- fisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2022, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each cooperatives’ quota share units and the total Amendment 80 quota 78105 share units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective species. Table 6 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs. TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] 2021 and 2022 allocations Pacific ocean perch Sector Eastern Aleutian District TAC .......................................................... CDQ ......................................................... ICA ........................................................... BSAI trawl limited access ........................ Amendment 80 ......................................... Central Aleutian District 10,619 1,136 100 938 8,444 Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 Flathead sole Rock sole Yellowfin sole BSAI BSAI BSAI 24,000 2,568 3,000 ........................ 18,432 49,000 5,243 6,000 ........................ 37,757 Western Aleutian District 7,817 836 60 692 6,229 10,000 1,070 10 178 8,742 cooperatives from achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at or below the ABC surplus for each species, thus maintaining the TAC below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves will be allocated as CDQ ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. Section 679.31(b)(4) establishes the annual 168,900 18,072 4,000 23,673 123,154 allocations of CDQ ABC reserves among the CDQ groups. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves are the ABC reserves minus the CDQ ABC reserves and are allocated to each Amendment 80 cooperative pursuant to § 679.91(i)(2). Table 7 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 ABC surplus and ABC reserves for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 ABC SURPLUS, ABC RESERVES, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) ABC RESERVES, AND AMENDMENT 80 ABC RESERVES IN THE BSAI FOR FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector Flathead sole ABC .............................................................................................................................................. TAC .............................................................................................................................................. ABC surplus ................................................................................................................................. ABC reserve ................................................................................................................................ CDQ ABC reserve ....................................................................................................................... Amendment 80 ABC reserve ....................................................................................................... khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring Sections 679.21(b), (e), (f), and (g) set forth the BSAI PSC limits. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1), the annual BSAI halibut PSC limits total 3,515 mt. Section 679.21(b)(1) allocates 315 mt of the halibut PSC limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program, 1,745 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector, 745 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, and 710 mt of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 halibut PSC limit for the BSAI non-trawl sector. Sections 679.21(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B) authorize apportionment of the BSAI non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC allowances among six fishery categories, and §§ 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B), (e)(3)(i)(B), and (e)(3)(iv) require apportionment of the BSAI trawl limited access sector’s halibut and crab PSC limits into PSC allowances among seven fishery categories. Table 10 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the BSAI trawl limited access sector PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 71,079 24,000 47,079 47,079 5,037 42,042 Rock sole 245,400 49,000 196,400 196,400 21,015 175,385 Yellowfin sole 261,497 168,900 92,597 92,597 9,908 82,689 fisheries, and Table 11 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the non-trawl fisheries. Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, that certain specified nontrawl fisheries be exempt from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consultation with the Council, NMFS proposes to exempt the pot gear fishery, the jig gear fishery, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1) E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 78106 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules The pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the IFQ Program requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the vessel is operating (§ 679.7(f)(11)). As of October 15, 2020, total groundfish catch for the pot gear fishery in the BSAI was 19,733 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch mortality of 5 mt. The 2020 jig gear fishery harvested about 10 mt of groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut bycatch in the jig gear fishery. As mentioned above, NMFS estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and released. Under § 679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of either 33,318, 45,000, 47,591, or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits among the AFA sectors, depending on past bycatch performance, on whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements (IPAs) are formed, and on whether NMFS determines it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year. NMFS will determine that it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year when abundance of Chinook salmon in western Alaska is less than or equal to 250,000 Chinook salmon. The State provides to NMFS an estimate of Chinook salmon abundance using the 3System Index for western Alaska, based on the Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and Upper Yukon aggregate stock grouping. If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and if it is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and if it is not a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 45,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and if in a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 33,318 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D). NMFS has determined that 2020 was a low Chinook salmon abundance year, based on the State’s estimate that Chinook salmon abundance in western Alaska is less than 250,000 Chinook salmon. Therefore, in 2021, the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 45,000 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). The AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are also seasonally apportioned with 70 percent of the allocation for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season pollock fishery (§§ 679.21(f)(3)(i) and 679.23(e)(2)). In 2021, the Chinook salmon bycatch performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) is 33,318 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D). NMFS publishes the approved IPAs, allocations, and reports at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska. Section 679.21(g)(2)(i) specifies 700 fish as the 2021 and 2022 Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI pollock fishery. Section 679.21(g)(2)(ii) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and allocates the remaining 647 Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries. Section 679.21(f)(14)(i) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2021 and 2022 nonChinook salmon PSC limit for vessels using trawl gear from August 15 through October 14 in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area (CVOA). Section 679.21(f)(14)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494 non-Chinook salmon, in the CVOA as the PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA to the non-CDQ fisheries. PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as of October 2020 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, basing the herring 2021 and 2022 PSC limits and apportionments on the 2019 survey data. The Council will PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 reconsider these amounts in December 2020. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl gear PSC limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program. Based on the most recent (2019) survey data, the red king crab mature female abundance is estimated at 9.668 million red king crabs, and the effective spawning biomass is estimated at 25.120 million lbs (11,394 mt). Based on the criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(i), the proposed 2021 and 2022 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 97,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female abundance estimate of more than 8.4 million red king crab and the effective spawning biomass estimate of more than 14.5 million lbs (6,577 mt) but less than 55 million lbs (24,948 mt). Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS) if the State has established a GHL fishery for red king crab in the Bristol Bay area in the previous year. The regulations limit the bycatch in the RKCSS to up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance, based on the need to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. NMFS proposes the Council’s recommendation that the red king crab bycatch limit within the RKCSS for 2021 and 2022 be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (Table 9). Based on the most recent (2019) survey data from the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 541 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2021 and 2022 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 980,000 animals in Zone 1, and 2,970,000 animals in Zone 2. The limit in Zone 1 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi (estimated at 541 million animals), which is greater than 400 million animals. The limit in Zone 2 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi (estimated at 541 million animals), which is greater than 400 million animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for trawl gear for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in the C. opilio bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs. Based on the most recent (2019) survey estimate of 11.57 billion animals, the calculated C. opilio crab E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules PSC limit is 13,108,810 animals. If the total abundance times 0.1133 percent is greater than 13 million, then the maximum PSC is set at 12.850 million animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best estimate of 2021 and 2022 herring biomass is 253,207 mt. This amount was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on biomass for spawning aggregations. Therefore, the herring PSC limit proposed for 2021 and 2022 is 2,532 mt for all trawl gear as listed in Tables 8 and 9. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires that PSQ reserves be subtracted from the total trawl PSC limits. The 2021 crab and halibut PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are listed in Table 35 to 50 CFR part 679. The resulting proposed allocations of crab and halibut PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access sector are listed in Table 8. Pursuant to §§ 679.21(b)(1)(i), 679.21(e)(3)(vi), and 679.91(d) through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 sector are then further allocated to Amendment 80 cooperatives as cooperative quotas. Crab and halibut PSC cooperative quotas assigned to Amendment 80 cooperatives are not allocated to specific fishery categories. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2021 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no PSC limit allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2021. The 2022 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2021. NMFS will post the 2022 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2022, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Sections 679.21(b)(2) and (e)(5) authorize NMFS, after consulting with the Council, to establish seasonal 78107 apportionments of halibut and crab PSC amounts for the BSAI non-trawl, BSAI trawl limited access, and Amendment 80 limited access sectors to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors considered are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to prohibited species distribution, (3) prohibited species bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species biomass and expected catches of target groundfish species, (4) expected variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal prohibited species apportionments on segments of the target groundfish industry. Based on this criteria, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, the seasonal PSC apportionments in Tables 10 and 11 to maximize harvest among gear types, fisheries, and seasons, while minimizing bycatch of PSC. TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 APPORTIONMENT OF PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES TO NON-TRAWL GEAR, THE CDQ PROGRAM, AMENDMENT 80, AND THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTORS PSC species and area 1 Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI ......................... Herring (mt) BSAI ........ Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 ...................... C. opilio (animals) COBLZ ...................... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1 ...................... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2 ...................... Total PSC Non-trawl PSC Trawl PSC remaining after CDQ PSQ CDQ PSQ reserve 2 Amendment 80 sector 3 BSAI trawl limited access sector BSAI PSC limits not allocated 2 3,515 2,532 710 n/a 315 n/a n/a n/a 1,745 n/a 745 n/a n/a n/a 97,000 n/a 10,379 86,621 43,293 26,489 16,839 12,850,000 n/a 1,374,950 11,475,050 5,639,987 3,688,081 2,146,982 980,000 n/a 104,860 875,140 368,521 411,228 95,390 2,970,000 n/a 317,790 2,652,210 627,778 1,241,500 782,932 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas and zones. The CDQ PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit. 3 The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits for crab below the total PSC limit. These reductions are not apportioned to other gear types or sectors. 2 TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 HERRING AND RED KING CRAB SAVINGS SUBAREA PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES FOR ALL TRAWL SECTORS Herring (mt) BSAI khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Fishery categories Yellowfin sole ........................................................................................................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/Alaska plaice/other flatfish 1 .............................................................................................. Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish ..................................................................... Rockfish ................................................................................................................................................................... Pacific cod ............................................................................................................................................................... Midwater trawl pollock ............................................................................................................................................. Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 2 3 .................................................................................................................. Red king crab savings subarea non-pelagic trawl gear 4 ........................................................................................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 110 54 7 7 13 2,299 42 n/a Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 24,250 78108 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 HERRING AND RED KING CRAB SAVINGS SUBAREA PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES FOR ALL TRAWL SECTORS—Continued Herring (mt) BSAI Fishery categories Total trawl PSC ........................................................................................................................................................ Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 2,532 97,000 1 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 2 Pollock other than midwater trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and ‘‘other species’’ fishery category. 3 Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and octopuses. 4 In October 2020, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes that the red king crab bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see § 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)). Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. TABLE 10—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTOR Prohibited species and area 1 Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 C. opilio (animals) COBLZ Zone 1 Zone 2 Yellowfin sole ....................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 2 ................................. Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/ sablefish ........................................................................... Rockfish April 15–December 31 .......................................... Pacific cod ............................................................................ Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 3 ................................. 150 ........................ 23,338 ........................ 3,476,708 ........................ 346,228 ........................ 1,185,500 ........................ ........................ 4 391 200 ........................ ........................ 2,954 197 ........................ 5,743 148,192 57,438 ........................ ........................ 60,000 5,000 ........................ 1,000 49,999 5,000 Total BSAI trawl limited access sector PSC ................ 745 26,489 3,688,081 411,228 1,241,500 BSAI trawl limited access sector fisheries C. bairdi (animals) 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas and zones. 2 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and octopuses. Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR NON-TRAWL FISHERIES Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Seasons Pacific cod ....................................................... Non-Pacific cod non-trawl—Total ................... Groundfish pot and jig .................................... Sablefish hook-and-line .................................. Annual Pacific cod ......................................... January 1–June 10 ........................................ June 10–August 15 ........................................ August 15–December 31 ............................... May 1–December 31 ...................................... n/a .................................................................. n/a .................................................................. 648 388 162 98 n/a n/a n/a 13 9 2 2 n/a n/a n/a 661 n/a n/a n/a 49 Exempt Exempt Total for all non-trawl PSC ...................... n/a .................................................................. n/a n/a 710 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Catcher/ processor Non-trawl fisheries 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 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 BSAI stock assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Catcher vessel All Non-Trawl the annual BSAI groundfish SAFE report. In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the Council’s directive. An interagency halibut working group (International Pacific Halibut Commission, Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the Plan Team, SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology is included in the BSAI proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87863; December E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules 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 used 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 78109 updated 2-year reference period. Comparing the proposed 2021 and 2022 DMRs to the final DMRs from the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, the DMR for motherships and CPs using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 84 percent from 75 percent, the DMR for CVs using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 59 percent from 58 percent, the DMR for CPs using hook-and-line gear remained at 9 percent, the DMR for CVs using hook-and-line gear remained at 9 percent, and the DMR for pot gear increased to 32 percent from 27 percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 DMRs. TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 PACIFIC HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES (DMR) FOR THE BSAI Halibut discard mortality rate (percent) Gear Sector Pelagic trawl ............................................................................... Non-pelagic trawl ........................................................................ Non-pelagic trawl ........................................................................ Hook-and-line ............................................................................. Hook-and-line ............................................................................. Pot .............................................................................................. All ................................................................................................ Mothership and catcher/processor ............................................. Catcher vessel ............................................................................ Catcher vessel ............................................................................ Catcher/processor ...................................................................... All ................................................................................................ Listed AFA C/P Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA CPs to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA fishery and from fishery cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are set out as sideboard limits on catch. On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA CPs from directed fishing for groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits (see § 679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 54 to 50 CFR part 679). NMFS proposes to exempt AFA CPs from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit pursuant to § 679.64(a)(1)(v) because the proposed 2021 and 2022 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to 50 CFR part 679 establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for halibut and crab caught by listed AFA CPs. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692; December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668; September 14, 2007). PSC species listed in Table 13 that are caught 100 84 59 9 9 32 by listed AFA CPs participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2021 and 2022 PSC sideboard limits for the listed AFA CPs. Sections 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA CPs once a proposed 2021 or 2022 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 13 is reached. Pursuant to §§ 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC by listed AFA CPs while fishing for pollock will accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/‘‘other species’’ fishery categories, according to §§ 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv). TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 BSAI AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT LISTED CATCHER/PROCESSOR PROHIBITED SPECIES SIDEBOARD LIMITS khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS PSC species and Ratio of PSC to total PSC area 1 BSAI Halibut mortality .................................................................................................................. Red king crab Zone 1 .................................................................................................................. C. opilio (COBLZ) ........................................................................................................................ C. bairdi Zone 1 ........................................................................................................................... C. bairdi Zone 2 ........................................................................................................................... 1 2 n/a 0.007 0.153 0.140 0.050 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas and zones. Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Proposed 2021 and 2022 PSC available to trawl vessels after subtraction of PSQ 2 n/a 86,621 11,475,050 875,140 2,652,210 Proposed 2021 and 2022 CP sideboard limit 2 286 606 1,755,683 122,520 132,611 78110 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules AFA CV Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of AFA CVs to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the pollock directed fishery. On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA CVs from directed fishing for a majority of the groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits (see § 679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 55 to 50 CFR part 679). The remainder of the sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs are proposed in Table 14. Sections 679.64(b)(3) and (b)(4) establish formulas for setting AFA CV groundfish and halibut and crab PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692; December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668; September 14, 2007). NMFS proposes to exempt AFA CVs from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit pursuant to § 679.64(b)(6) because the proposed 2021 and 2022 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Table 14 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 AFA CV sideboard limits. TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 BSAI PACIFIC COD SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSELS (CVS) [Amounts are in metric tons] Ratio of 1995– 1997 AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC Fishery by area/gear/season BSAI ............................................................................................................................................. Trawl gear CV .............................................................................................................................. Jan 20–Apr 1 ........................................................................................................................ Apr 1–Jun 10 ........................................................................................................................ Jun 10–Nov 1 ....................................................................................................................... n/a n/a 0.8609 0.8609 0.8609 2021 and 2022 initial TAC n/a n/a 15,543 2,310 3,151 2021 and 2022 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits n/a n/a 13,381 1,989 2,713 Note: As proposed, § 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA catcher vessels from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2021 and 2022 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 15 that are caught by AFA CVs participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the 2021 and 2022 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA CVs. Sections 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA CVs once a proposed 2021 and 2022 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 15 is reached. Pursuant to §§ 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC by AFA CVs while fishing for pollock in the BS will accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/ ‘‘other species’’ fishery categories under §§ 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv). khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2021 AND 2022 AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE BSAI 1 PSC species and area 1 Target fishery category 2 Halibut ..................................... Pacific cod trawl ..................................................................... Pacific cod hook-and-line or pot ............................................ Yellowfin sole total ................................................................. Rock sole/flathead sole/Alaska plaice/other flatfish 4 ............. Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/ sablefish. Rockfish .................................................................................. Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 5 ................................... n/a ........................................................................................... n/a ........................................................................................... n/a ........................................................................................... n/a ........................................................................................... Red king crab Zone 1 ............. C. opilio COBLZ ...................... C. bairdi Zone 1 ...................... C. bairdi Zone 2 ...................... Proposed 2021 and 2022 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit 3 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit ratio Proposed 2021 and 2022 PSC limit after subtraction of PSQ reserves 3 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 887 2 101 228 n/a n/a 0.2990 0.1680 0.3300 0.1860 n/a n/a 86,621 11,475,050 875,140 2,652,210 2 5 25,900 1,927,808 288,796 493,311 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas and zones. Target fishery categories are defined at § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv). 3 Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 4 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 5 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and octopuses. 2 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules 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 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 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. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 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 gross 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 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 661 individual CVs and CPs with gross revenues less than or equal to $11 million as well as six CDQ groups. 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 BSAI are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization 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 PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 78111 for membership in these cooperatives, there are an estimated 605 small CV and 56 small CP entities remaining in the BSAI groundfish sector. However, the estimate of these 605 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, hook-and-line CPs, and pot gear CPs are estimated to be $500,000, $1.4 million, $2.9 million, $7.0 million, and $3.5 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 prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the BSAI. 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 MagnusonStevens Act. The establishment of the proposed harvest specifications is governed by the Council’s harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the BSAI. 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 sum of all TACs remains within the OY for the BSAI consistent with § 679.20(a)(1)(i)(A). Because setting all TACs equal to ABCs would cause the sum of TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt, TACs for some species or species groups are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan Team and the SSC. The proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs and ABCs are based on the best E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 78112 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 233 / Thursday, December 3, 2020 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 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 some species and species groups in the BSAI, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, proposed TACs equal to proposed ABCs, which is intended to maximize harvest opportunities in the BSAI. However, NMFS cannot set TACs for all species in the BSAI equal to their ABCs due to the constraining OY limit of two million mt. For this reason, some proposed TACs are less than the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Dec 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 proposed ABCs. The specific reductions are reviewed and recommended by the Council’s AP, and the Council in turn adopted the AP’s TAC recommendations for the proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs. 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 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 BSAI, including small entities. The action proposes TACs for commercially-valuable species in the BSAI 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 PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 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. 2020–26598 Filed 12–1–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 233 (Thursday, December 3, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 78096-78112]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-26598]


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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

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

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

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SUMMARY: 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-2020-0141, 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 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 Magnuson-
Stevens 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 Sec.  
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 Sec.  679.21; seasonal allowances 
of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC; American Fisheries

[[Page 78097]]

Act allocations; Amendment 80 allocations; Community Development Quota 
(CDQ) reserve amounts established by Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii); and 
acceptable biological catch (ABC) surpluses and reserves for CDQ groups 
and Amendment 80 cooperatives for flathead sole, rock sole, and 
yellowfin sole. The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 
1 through 15 of this action satisfy these requirements.
    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 121 to the FMP: Reclassify Sculpins as an Ecosystem Component 
Species

    On July 10, 2020, NMFS published the final rule to implement 
Amendment 121 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), ABC, and TAC for sculpins in the BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications, beginning with these proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest 
specifications. Amendment 121 prohibits directed fishing for sculpins, 
while maintaining recordkeeping and reporting requirements for 
sculpins. Amendment 121 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 areas. 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 BSAI 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.

State of Alaska Guideline Harvest Levels

    For 2021 and 2022, the Board of Fisheries (BOF) for the State of 
Alaska (State) established the guideline harvest level (GHL) for 
vessels using pot gear in State waters in the Bering Sea subarea (BS). 
The 2020 BS GHL was set at 9 percent of the 2020 BS ABC (85 FR 13553; 
March 9, 2020). The State's pot gear BS GHL will increase one percent 
annually up to 15 percent of the BS ABC, if at least 90 percent of the 
GHL is harvested by November 15 of the preceding year. In 2020, 90 
percent of the GHL has been harvested by November 15, 2020, which 
triggers a one percent increase in the GHL in 2021 and results in a 
2021 GHL of 10 percent of the Pacific cod proposed BS ABC. If at least 
90 percent of the 2021 BS GHL is not harvested by November 15, 2021, 
then the 2022 BS GHL will remain at the same percent (10 percent) as 
the 2021 BS GHL. If 90 percent of the 2021 BS GHL is harvested by 
November 15, 2021, then the 2022 BS GHL will increase by one percent 
and the 2022 BS TAC will be set to account for the increased BS GHL. 
Also, for 2021 and 2022, the BOF established an additional GHL for 
vessels using jig gear in State waters in the BS equal to 45 mt of 
Pacific cod. The Council and its BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team), 
Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Advisory Panel (AP) 
recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod 
removals from the BS not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations for 
Pacific cod in the BS. Accordingly, the Council recommended, and NMFS 
proposes, that the 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs in the BS account for 
the State's GHLs for Pacific cod caught in State waters.
    For 2021 and 2022, the BOF for the State established the GHL in 
State waters in the Aleutian Islands subarea (AI). The 2020 AI GHL was 
set at 35 percent of the 2020 AI ABC (85 FR 13553; March 9, 2020). The 
AI GHL will increase annually by 4 percent of the AI ABC, if 90 percent 
of the GHL is harvested by November 15 of the preceding year, but may 
not exceed 39 percent of the AI ABC or 15 million pounds (6,804 mt). In 
2020, 90 percent of the GHL has been harvested by November 15, 2020, 
which triggers a 4 percent increase in the GHL in 2021; however, 39 
percent of the proposed 2021 and 2022 AI ABC is 8,034 mt, which exceeds 
the AI GHL limit of 6,804 mt. The Council and its Plan Team, SSC, and 
AP recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod 
removals from the AI not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations for 
Pacific cod in the AI. Accordingly, the Council recommended, and NMFS 
proposes, that the 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs in the AI account for 
the State's GHL of 6,804 mt for Pacific cod caught in State waters.

Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications

    In October 2020, the Council's SSC, its AP, and the Council 
reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the 
condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Plan Team compiled and 
presented this information in the final 2019 SAFE report for the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries, dated November 2019 (see ADDRESSES). The final 
2020 SAFE report will be available from the same source.
    The proposed 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications are based on the 
final 2021 harvest specifications published in March 2020 (85 FR 13553; 
March 9, 2020), which were set after consideration of the most recent 
2019 SAFE report, and are based on the initial survey data that were 
presented at the September 2020 Plan Team meeting. The proposed 2021 
and 2022 harvest specifications in this action are subject to change in 
the final harvest specifications to be published by NMFS following the 
Council's December 2020 meeting.
    Many of the scheduled 2020 Gulf of Alaska (GOA) and BSAI groundfish 
and ecosystem surveys were cancelled or modified, although 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 and 
eastern Bering Sea (EBS), including the EBS trawl survey and a northern 
Bering Sea trawl survey. The stock assessment process is adaptable to 
the changes in availability of survey data, as many surveys only are 
conducted periodically, rather than annually, and any changes relevant 
to

[[Page 78098]]

the stock assessment process will be addressed in the final SAFE 
report.
    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 comments in making its recommendations for the final 2021 and 
2022 harvest specifications.

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 or the models' results used for producing stock assessments. Any 
changes to models used in stock assessments will be recommended by the 
Plan Team in November 2020 and then included in the final 2020 SAFE 
report. Model changes can result in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, and 
TACs. The final 2020 SAFE report will include the most recent 
information, such as catch data.
    The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not 
expected to vary greatly from these proposed harvest specification 
amounts. If the 2020 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend 
is increasing for a species, then the final 2021 and 2022 harvest 
specifications 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. In addition to changes driven by 
biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs 
exceeding 2 million mt. Since the regulations require TACs to be set to 
an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to 
recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan 
Team and the SSC, if setting all TACs equal to ABCs would cause the sum 
of TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt. Generally, total ABCs greatly 
exceed 2 million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. For both 
2021 and 2022, NMFS anticipates that the sum of the final ABCs will 
exceed 2 million mt. NMFS expects that the final TACs for the BSAI for 
both 2021 and 2022 will equal 2 million mt each year.
    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 a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the 
level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 
represents the highest level of information quality available, while 
Tier 6 represents the lowest. The proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs are based 
on the best available biological and socioeconomic information.
    In October 2020, the SSC adopted the proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs 
and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish. The Council 
adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations. The OFL and ABC amounts 
are, for the most part, unchanged from the final 2021 harvest 
specifications published in the Federal Register on March 9, 2020 (85 
FR 13553). However, the OFL and ABC for rock sole was increased because 
a data file error was discovered in the 2019 stock assessment. Also, 
sculpins have been reclassified 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 (85 FR 41427; July 10, 
2020). Therefore, starting with these proposed harvest specifications, 
the OFL, ABC, and TAC for sculpins will no longer be set in the BSAI 
harvest specifications. The 5,000 mt that had been specified for the 
2021 sculpin TAC has been distributed among AI Greenland turbot, BSAI 
Kamchatka flounder, BSAI Alaska plaice, Bering Sea and Eastern Aleutian 
Islands (BS/EAI) blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, BSAI sharks, and 
BSAI octopuses. The sum of the proposed 2021 and 2022 ABCs for all 
assessed groundfish is 2,984,164 mt. The sum of the proposed TACs is 
2,000,000 mt.

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs that are equal 
to the proposed ABCs for 2021 and 2022 BS sablefish, Central AI Atka 
mackerel, BS and Eastern AI Atka mackerel, BS Pacific ocean perch, 
Central AI Pacific ocean perch, Eastern AI Pacific ocean perch, Central 
AI and Western AI blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, and AI ``other 
rockfish.'' The Council recommended proposed TACs less than the 
respective proposed ABCs for all other species. Section 
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 
mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof 
pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are 
set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY.
    The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change 
pending the completion of the final 2020 SAFE report and the Council's 
recommendations for the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications 
during its December 2020 meeting. These proposed 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 have been 
adjusted for other biological information and socioeconomic 
considerations, including maintaining the entire TAC within the 
required OY range. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, the 
Council could recommend adjusting the final TACs if ``warranted on the 
basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or 
socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum 
of the TACs to fall within the OY range.'' Table 1 lists the proposed 
2021 and 2022 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for 
groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts 
among fisheries and seasons is discussed below.

[[Page 78099]]



  Table 1--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Overfishing Level (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Total Allowable Catch (TAC), Initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ
                                                    Reserve Allocation of Groundfish in the BSAI \1\
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Proposed 2021 and 2022
                  Species                               Area             -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                OFL             ABC             TAC          ITAC \2\         CDQ 3 4
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \4\...............................  BS..........................       3,385,000       1,767,000       1,450,000       1,305,000         145,000
                                            AI..........................          70,970          58,384          19,000          17,100           1,900
                                            Bogoslof....................         183,080         137,310              75              75  ..............
Pacific cod \5\...........................  BS..........................         125,734         102,975          92,633          82,721           9,912
                                            AI..........................          27,400          20,600          13,796          12,320           1,476
Sablefish.................................  Alaska-wide.................          64,765             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                            BS..........................             n/a           2,865           2,865           1,218             107
                                            AI..........................             n/a           3,891           2,500             531              47
Yellowfin sole............................  BSAI........................         287,943         261,497         168,900         150,828          18,072
Greenland turbot..........................  BSAI........................          10,006           8,510           5,795           4,926             n/a
                                            BS..........................             n/a           7,429           5,125           4,356             548
                                            AI..........................             n/a           1,081             670             570  ..............
Arrowtooth flounder.......................  BSAI........................          86,647          73,804          10,000           8,500           1,070
Kamchatka flounder........................  BSAI........................          11,472           9,688           7,116           6,049  ..............
Rock sole \6\.............................  BSAI........................         251,800         245,400          49,000          43,757           5,243
Flathead sole \7\.........................  BSAI........................          86,432          71,079          24,000          21,432           2,568
Alaska plaice.............................  BSAI........................          36,500          30,700          24,000          20,400  ..............
Other flatfish \8\........................  BSAI........................          21,824          16,368           5,000           4,250  ..............
Pacific Ocean perch.......................  BSAI........................          56,589          46,885          42,036          36,953             n/a
                                            BS..........................             n/a          13,600          13,600          11,560  ..............
                                            EAI.........................             n/a          10,619          10,619           9,483           1,136
                                            CAI.........................             n/a           7,817           7,817           6,981             836
                                            WAI.........................             n/a          14,849          10,000           8,930           1,070
Northern rockfish.........................  BSAI........................          19,070          15,683          10,000           8,500  ..............
Blackspotted/Rougheyerockfish \10\........  BSAI........................           1,090             899             439             373  ..............
                                            BS/EAI......................             n/a             560             100              85  ..............
                                            CAI/WAI.....................             n/a             339             339             288  ..............
Shortraker rockfish.......................  BSAI........................             722             541             375             319  ..............
Other rockfish \10\.......................  BSAI........................           1,793           1,344           1,088             925  ..............
                                            BS..........................             n/a             956             700             595  ..............
                                            AI..........................             n/a             388             388             330  ..............
Atka mackerel.............................  BSAI........................          74,800          64,400          54,482          48,652           5,830
                                            EAI/BS......................             n/a          22,540          22,540          20,128           2,412
                                            CAI.........................             n/a          13,524          13,524          12,077           1,447
                                            WAI.........................             n/a          28,336          18,418          16,447           1,971
Skates....................................  BSAI........................          48,289          40,248          16,000          13,600  ..............
Sharks....................................  BSAI........................             689             517             200             170  ..............
Octopuses.................................  BSAI........................           4,769           3,576             700             595  ..............
                                                                         -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.................................  ............................       4,857,384       2,984,164       2,000,000       1,789,193         194,816
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these
  harvest specifications, the Bering Sea subarea (BS) includes the Bogoslof District.
\2\ Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead
  sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a non-specified reserve.
  The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80 species, ITAC is the non-
  CDQ allocation of TAC (see footnote 3 and 4).
\3\ For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 10.7
  percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC
  allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea
  Greenland turbot and BSAI arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). The 2021 hook-and-
  line or pot gear portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications. Aleutian
  Islands Greenland turbot, ``other flatfish,'' Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker
  rockfish, blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, ``other rockfish,'' skates, sharks, and octopuses are not allocated to the CDQ Program.
\4\ Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual BS pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second
  for the incidental catch allowance (3.9 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: inshore-50 percent;
  catcher/processor-40 percent; and motherships-10 percent. Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for
  the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a
  pollock directed fishery.
\5\ The BS Pacific cod TAC is set to account for the 10 percent, plus 45 mt, of the BS ABC for the State of Alaska's (State) guideline harvest level in
  State waters of the BS. The AI Pacific cod TAC is set to account for 39 percent of the AI ABC for the State guideline harvest level in State waters of
  the AI, unless the State guideline harvest level would exceed 15 million pounds (6,804 mt), in which case the TAC is set to account for the maximum
  authorized State guideline harvest level of 6,804 mt.
\6\ ``Rock sole'' includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole).
\7\ ``Flathead sole'' includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder).
\8\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole,
  Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.
\9\ ``Blackspotted/Rougheye rockfish'' includes Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted) and Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye).
\10\ ``Other rockfish'' includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, dark rockfish, northern rockfish, shortraker
  rockfish, and blackspotted/rougheye rockfish.

[[Page 78100]]

 
Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2 (BSAI = Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area, BS = Bering Sea subarea, AI =
  Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI = Eastern Aleutian district, CAI = Central Aleutian district, WAI = Western Aleutian district.)

Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for 
Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and 
AI Pacific Ocean Perch

    Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the 
TAC for each target species category (except for pollock, hook-and-line 
and pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species) in a 
non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that NMFS 
allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of 
sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve for each subarea. 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires that NMFS allocate 7.5 percent of 
the trawl gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of BS Greenland 
turbot and arrowtooth flounder TACs to the respective CDQ reserves. 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires that NMFS allocate 10.7 percent of 
the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, 
rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the respective CDQ 
reserves.
    Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) require allocation of 10 
percent of the BS pollock TAC to the pollock CDQ directed fishing 
allowance (DFA). Sections 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and 679.31(a) 
require 10 percent of the AI pollock TAC be allocated to the pollock 
CDQ DFA. The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an 
ICA pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(ii) because the Bogoslof District is 
closed to directed fishing for pollock by regulation (Sec.  
679.22(a)(7)(B)). With the exception of the hook-and-line or pot gear 
sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ 
reserves by gear.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock 
ICA of 3.9 percent or 50,895 mt of the BS pollock TAC after subtracting 
the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS's examination 
of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded catch, including the 
incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock 
from 2000 through 2020. During this 21-year period, the pollock 
incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.2 percent in 2006 to a high of 
4.6 percent in 2014, with a 21-year average of 3 percent. Pursuant to 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock 
ICA of 14 percent or 2,400 mt of the AI pollock TAC after subtracting 
the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS's examination 
of the pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ 
vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2020. 
During this 18-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from 
a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2014, with an 18-
year average of 8 percent.
    Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 
3,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 4,000 mt of yellowfin 
sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 60 mt of 
Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern 
Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 20 mt of Western Aleutian 
District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka 
mackerel, and 800 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and BS Atka mackerel, 
after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserves. These ICAs are based 
on NMFS's examination of the average incidental catch in other target 
fisheries from 2003 through 2020.
    The remainder of the non-specified reserve are not designated by 
species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be apportioned 
to a target species that contributed to the non-specified reserve 
during the year, provided that such apportionments are consistent with 
Sec.  679.20(a)(3) and do not result in overfishing (see Sec.  
679.20(b)(1)(i)).

Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA)

    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that BS pollock TAC be 
apportioned as a DFA, after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ Program 
and 3.9 percent for the ICA, as follows: 50 percent to the inshore 
sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor (CP) sector, and 10 percent 
to the mothership sector. In the BS, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated 
to the A season (January 20 to June 10), and 55 percent of the DFA is 
allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (Sec. Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)(1) and 679.23(e)(2)). The AI directed pollock 
fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock 
TAC remaining in the AI after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 
percent), and 2,400 mt for the ICA (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)). In 
the AI, the total A season apportionment of the pollock TAC (including 
the AI directed fishery allocation, the CDQ DFA, and the ICA) may equal 
up to 40 percent of the ABC for AI pollock, and the remainder of the 
pollock TAC is allocated to the B season (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(3)). Table 2 lists these proposed 2021 and 2022 
amounts.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in 
the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In 
Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent 
of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit 
is no more than 15 percent of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 541, the A 
season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent of the AI 
pollock ABC.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) includes several specific 
requirements regarding BS pollock allocations. First, it requires that 
8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the CP sector be available for 
harvest by AFA catcher vessels (CVs) with CP sector endorsements, 
unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that 
allows the distribution of harvest among AFA CPs and AFA CVs in a 
manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA CPs not listed in the AFA 
are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock 
allocated to the CP sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 
allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 13, 14, and 15 list the AFA CP and 
CV harvesting sideboard limits. The BS inshore pollock cooperative and 
open access sector allocations are based on the submission of AFA 
inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each 
calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2021 
have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS therefore cannot calculate 
2021 allocations, NMFS has not included inshore cooperative tables in 
these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2021 AFA 
inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations on the 
Alaska Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheries-management-reports prior to the 
start of the fishing year on January 1, 2021, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and 
harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The 
harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at Sec.  
679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the annual 
pollock DFA before 12:00 noon, April 1, as provided in Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be

[[Page 78101]]

apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector's allocated 
percentage of the DFA.

  Table 2--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Allocations of Pollock TACS to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ
                                      Directed Fishing Allowances (DFA) \1\
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           A season \1\            B season \1\
                                                   2021 and 2022 -----------------------------------------------
                 Area and sector                    allocations                     SCA harvest
                                                                   A season DFA      limit \2\     B season DFA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea subarea TAC..........................       1,450,000             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................         145,000          65,250          40,600          79,750
ICA \1\.........................................          50,895             n/a             n/a             n/a
Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ)..................       1,254,105         564,347         351,149         689,758
AFA Inshore.....................................         627,053         282,174         175,575         344,879
    AFA Catcher/Processors \3\..................         501,642         225,739         140,460         275,903
    Catch by CPs................................         459,002         206,551             n/a         252,451
    Catch by CVs \3\............................          42,640          19,188             n/a          23,452
        Unlisted CP Limit \4\...................           2,508           1,129             n/a           1,380
AFA Motherships.................................         125,411          56,435          35,115          68,976
Excessive Harvesting Limit \5\..................         219,468             n/a             n/a             n/a
Excessive Processing Limit \6\..................         376,232             n/a             n/a             n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea ABC....................          58,384             n/a             n/a             n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea TAC....................          19,000             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................           1,900             760             n/a           1,140
ICA.............................................           2,400           1,200             n/a           1,200
Aleut Corporation...............................          14,700          14,700             n/a
Area harvest limit \7\..........................             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a
    541.........................................          17,515             n/a             n/a             n/a
    542.........................................           8,758             n/a             n/a             n/a
    543.........................................           2,919             n/a             n/a             n/a
Bogoslof District ICA \8\.......................              75             n/a             n/a             n/a
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ
  DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (3.9 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: inshore sector-50 percent,
  catcher/processor sector (CPs)-40 percent, and mothership sector-10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45
  percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to
  the B season (June 10-November 1). Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) through (iii), the annual
  Aleutian Islands subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second for the
  ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the Aleutian Islands
  subarea, the A season is allocated up to 40 percent of the AI pollock ABC.
\2\ In the Bering Sea subarea, pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(C), no more than 28 percent of each sector's
  annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1.
\3\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed CPs shall be available
  for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels with a CP endorsement delivering to listed CPs, unless there is a
  CP sector cooperative for the year.
\4\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted CPs are limited to harvesting not more than
  0.5 percent of the C/P sector's allocation of pollock.
\5\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5
  percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
\6\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0
  percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
\7\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in
  Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent
  of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC.
\8\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.22(a)(7)(B), the Bogoslof District is closed to directed fishing for pollock. The
  amounts specified are for incidental catch only and are not apportioned by season or sector.

Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs

    Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the 
Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting 
the CDQ reserves, ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and 
non-trawl gear sectors, and the jig gear allocation (Table 3). The 
percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 
and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to 50 CFR 
part 679 and in Sec.  679.91. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 
2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka 
mackerel TAC may be allocated to vessels using jig gear. The percent of 
this allocation is recommended annually by the Council based on several 
criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear 
fleet. The Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, a 0.5 percent 
allocation of the Atka mackerel TAC in the Eastern Aleutian District 
and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2021 and 2022.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into 
two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first 
seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 
through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 
10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies 
Atka mackerel seasons to trawl CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and 
jig gear allocations are not apportioned by season.
    Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limit Atka mackerel 
catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nmi of Steller sea lion sites listed in 
Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located west of 178[deg] W longitude to 
no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543, and 
equally divides the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined 
at Sec.  679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires that the 
annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in 
Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested 
Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be 
prohibited from being

[[Page 78102]]

harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nmi of Steller sea lion sites listed 
in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located in Areas 541, 542, and 
543.Table 3 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 Atka mackerel season 
allowances, area allowances, and the sector allocations. One Amendment 
80 cooperative has formed for the 2021 fishing year. Because all 
Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2021. The 2022 
allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible 
participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 
2021. NMFS will post the 2022 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 
80 limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at 
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on 
January 1, 2022, based on the harvest specifications effective on that 
date.

   Table 3--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch
                   Allowance (ICA), and Amendment 80 Allocations of the BSAI ATKA Mackerel TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                         2021 and 2022 allocation by area
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                                                      Eastern
              Sector \1\                   Season \2\ \3\ \4\        Aleutian         Central         Western
                                                                     District/       Aleutian        Aleutian
                                                                    Bering  Sea    District \5\    District \5\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC...................................  n/a.....................          22,540          13,524          18,418
CDQ reserve...........................  Total...................           2,412           1,447           1,971
                                        A.......................           1,206             724             985
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a             434             591
                                        B.......................           1,206             724             985
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a             434             591
non-CDQ TAC...........................  n/a.....................          20,128          12,077          16,447
ICA...................................  Total...................             800              75              20
Jig \6\...............................  Total...................              97
BSAI trawl limited access.............  Total...................           1,923           1,200
                                        A.......................             962             600
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a             360
                                        B.......................             962             600
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a             360
 
Amendment 80..........................  Total...................          17,308          10,802          16,427
                                        A.......................           8,654           5,401           8,214
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a           3,241           4,928
                                        B.......................           8,654           5,401           8,214
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a           3,241           4,928
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs, and the
  jig gear allocation, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for
  Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR
  part 679 and Sec.   679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.
  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31).
\2\ Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel
  fishery.
\3\ The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season.
\4\ Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from
  January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31.
\5\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to
  be caught inside of Steller sea lion critical habitat; Sec.   679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the
  annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at Sec.   679.23(e)(3); and Sec.   679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2)
  requires that the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC in Area 543.
\6\ Sections 679.2 and 679.20(a)(8)(i) require that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering
  Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserve and ICA. The proposed amount of
  this allocation for 2021 and 2022 is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.

Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC

    The Council separated BS and AI subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for 
Pacific cod in 2014 (79 FR 12108; March 4, 2014). Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC 
to the CDQ Program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the 
respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific 
cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector 
allocations. If the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be reached in 
either the BS or the AI subareas, NMFS will prohibit directed fishing 
for non-CDQ Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iii).
    Sections 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate to the non-CDQ sectors 
the combined BSAI Pacific cod TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for 
the CDQ Program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 
percent to hook-and-line or pot CVs less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length 
overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line CVs greater than or equal 
to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line CPs, 8.4 percent 
to pot CVs greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to 
pot CPs, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl CPs, 13.4 percent to the Amendment 80 
sector, and 22.1 percent to trawl CVs. The BSAI ICA for the hook-and-
line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of 
BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. 
For 2021 and 2022, the Regional Administrator proposes a BSAI ICA of 
400 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other 
fisheries.
    The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector 
is

[[Page 78103]]

established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and Sec.  679.91. One 
Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2021 fishing year. Because 
all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to 
the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2021. The 2022 
allocations for Pacific cod between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible 
participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 
2021. NMFS will post the 2022 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 
80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 
2022, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date.
    The sector allocations of Pacific cod are apportioned into seasonal 
allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year 
(see Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(i)(B), 679.20 (a)(7)(iv)(A), and 
679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and 
(C), any unused portion of a Pacific cod seasonal allowance for any 
sector, except the jig sector, will become available at the beginning 
of that sector's next seasonal allowance.
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires that the Regional Administrator 
establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod 
abundance in Area 543 as determined by the annual stock assessment 
process. Based on the 2019 stock assessment, the Regional Administrator 
has preliminarily determined for 2021 and 2022 that the estimated 
amount of Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 is 15.7 percent of total AI 
abundance. NMFS will first subtract the State GHL Pacific cod amount 
from the AI Pacific cod ABC. Then NMFS will determine the harvest limit 
in Area 543 by multiplying the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in 
Area 543 (15.7 percent) by the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod. Based 
on these calculations, which rely on the 2019 stock assessment, the 
proposed Area 543 harvest limit is 2,166 mt. However, the final Area 
543 harvest limit could change if the Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 
changes based on the stock assessment in the final 2020 SAFE report.
    On March 21, 2019, the final rule adopting Amendment 113 to the FMP 
(81 FR 84434; November 23, 2016) was vacated by the U.S. District Court 
for the District of Columbia (Groundfish Forum v. Ross, No. 16-2495 
(D.D.C. March 21, 2019)), and the corresponding regulations 
implementing Amendment 113 are no longer in effect. Therefore, this 
proposed rule is not specifying amounts for the AI Pacific Cod Catcher 
Vessel Harvest Set-Aside Program (see Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(viii)).
    Table 4 lists the CDQ and non-CDQ seasonal allowances by gear based 
on the proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific cod TACs; the sector allocation 
percentages of Pacific cod set forth at Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) 
and (a)(7)(iv)(A); and the seasons set forth at Sec.  679.23(e)(5).

    Table 4-Proposed 2021 and 2022 Sector Allocations and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI \1\ Pacific COD TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     2021 and 2022 seasonal
                                                 2021 and 2022   2021 and 2022            apportionment
            Sector                  Percent      share of gear     share of    ---------------------------------
                                                 sector total    sector total        Season           Amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total Bering Sea TAC..........             n/a          92,633             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Bering Sea CDQ................             n/a           9,912             n/a  See Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i)
                                                                                 (B).
Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC........             n/a          82,721             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Total Aleutian Islands TAC....             n/a          13,796             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Aleutian Islands CDQ..........             n/a           1,476             n/a  See Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i)
                                                                                 (B).
Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC..             n/a          12,320             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Western Aleutians Islands                  n/a           2,166             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
 Limit.
Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC \1\....             100          95,041             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear..              61          57,785             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA \2\.....             n/a             n/a             400  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot sub-total...             n/a          57,385             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line catcher/                      49             n/a          45,965  Jan 1-Jun 10....          23,442
 processors.                                                                    Jun 10-Dec 31...          22,523
Hook-and-line catcher vessels                0             n/a             189  Jan 1-Jun 10....              96
 >=60 ft LOA.                                                                   Jun 10-Dec 31...              92
Pot catcher/processors........               2             n/a           1,416  Jan 1-Jun 10....             722
                                                                                Sept 1-Dec 31...             694
Pot catcher vessels >=60 ft                  8             n/a           7,928  Jan 1-Jun 10....           4,043
 LOA.                                                                           Sept 1-Dec 31...           3,885
Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA                   2             n/a           1,888  n/a.............             n/a
 using hook-and-line or pot
 gear.
Trawl catcher vessels.........              22          21,004             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....          15,543
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           2,310
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....           3,151
AFA trawl catcher/processors..               2           2,186             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....           1,639
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....             546
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....
Amendment 80..................              13          12,736             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....           9,552
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           3,184
                                                                                Jun 10-Dec 31...

[[Page 78104]]

 
Jig...........................               1           1,331             n/a  Jan 1-Apr 30....             798
                                                                                Apr 30-Aug 31...             266
                                                                                Aug 31-Dec 31...             266
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The non-CDQ sector allocations and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the
  BS and AI Pacific cod non-CDQ TACs, after subtraction of the reserve for the CDQ Program. If the non-CDQ TAC
  for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for the non-CDQ sectors will be
  prohibited for Pacific cod in that subarea, even if a BSAI allowance remains.
\2\ The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC
  allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 400 mt for 2021
  and 2022 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.

Sablefish Gear Allocation

    Sections 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of sablefish 
TAC for the BS and AI between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear. 
Gear allocations of the sablefish TAC for the BS are 50 percent for 
trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear 
allocations of the TAC for the AI are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 
percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) 
requires that NMFS apportion 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot 
gear allocation of sablefish TAC to the CDQ reserve for each subarea. 
Also, Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the 
trawl gear allocation of sablefish TAC from the non-specified reserve, 
established under Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i), be apportioned to the CDQ 
reserve. The Council recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be 
established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-and-
line or pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries are 
limited to the 2021 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are 
conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent 
sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries reduce the potential for discards 
of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ 
fisheries remain closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the 
final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in 
effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 gear allocations of 
the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts.

                                   Table 5--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Gear Shares and CDQ Reserve of BSAI Sablefish TACs
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           2021 Share of                     2021 CDQ      2022 Share of                     2022 CDQ
            Subarea and gear              Percent of TAC        TAC        2021 ITAC \1\      reserve           TAC          2022 ITAC        reserve
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea:
    Trawl...............................              50           1,433           1,218             107           1,433           1,218             107
    Hook-and-line gear/pot \2\..........              50           1,433             n/a             287             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...........................             100           2,865           1,218             394           1,433           1,218             107
Aleutian Islands:
    Trawl...............................              25             625             531              47             625             531              47
    Hook-and-line gear/pot \2\..........              75           1,875             n/a             375             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...........................             100           2,500             531             422             625             531              47
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ For the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using trawl gear, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the non-specified reserve (Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(i)).
  The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after subtracting these reserves. In the BS and AI, 7.5 percent of the trawl non-specified reserve is assigned to
  the CDQ reserves (Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1)).
\2\ For the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants
  (Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B)). The Council recommended that specifications for the hook-and-line and pot gear sablefish IFQ fisheries be limited to one
  year.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Allocation of the AI Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock 
Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs

    Sections 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI 
Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin 
sole TACs between the Amendment 80 sector and the BSAI trawl limited 
access sector, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserves and 
amounts for ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels 
using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean 
perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the 
Amendment 80 sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to 50 CFR part 
679 and in Sec.  679.91.
    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2021 fishing year. 
Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 
2021. The 2022 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 
80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible

[[Page 78105]]

participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 
2021. NMFS will post the 2022 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 
80 limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at 
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on 
January 1, 2022, based on the harvest specifications effective on that 
date. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each Amendment 80 cooperative 
ABC reserve to be the ratio of each cooperatives' quota share units and 
the total Amendment 80 quota share units, multiplied by the Amendment 
80 ABC reserve for each respective species. Table 6 lists the proposed 
2021 and 2022 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs.

    Table 6--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Community Development Quota (CDQ) Reserves, Incidental Catch Amounts (ICAs), and Amendment 80 Allocations of the
                            Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             2021 and 2022 allocations
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                        Pacific ocean perch                Flathead sole     Rock sole    Yellowfin sole
                         Sector                          -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Eastern         Central         Western
                                                             Aleutian        Aleutian        Aleutian          BSAI            BSAI            BSAI
                                                             District        District        District
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC.....................................................          10,619           7,817          10,000          24,000          49,000         168,900
CDQ.....................................................           1,136             836           1,070           2,568           5,243          18,072
ICA.....................................................             100              60              10           3,000           6,000           4,000
BSAI trawl limited access...............................             938             692             178  ..............  ..............          23,673
Amendment 80............................................           8,444           6,229           8,742          18,432          37,757         123,154
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, 
and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for 
each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the 
ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, 
environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the 
CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from achieving, on a 
continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. 
NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at 
or below the ABC surplus for each species, thus maintaining the TAC 
below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves 
will be allocated as CDQ ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and 
yellowfin sole. Section 679.31(b)(4) establishes the annual allocations 
of CDQ ABC reserves among the CDQ groups. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves 
are the ABC reserves minus the CDQ ABC reserves and are allocated to 
each Amendment 80 cooperative pursuant to Sec.  679.91(i)(2). Table 7 
lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 ABC surplus and ABC reserves for BSAI 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.

 Table 7--Proposed 2021 and 2022 ABC Surplus, ABC Reserves, Community Development Quota (CDQ) ABC Reserves, and
             Amendment 80 ABC Reserves in the BSAI for Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Sector                                Flathead sole     Rock sole    Yellowfin sole
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC.............................................................          71,079         245,400         261,497
TAC.............................................................          24,000          49,000         168,900
ABC surplus.....................................................          47,079         196,400          92,597
ABC reserve.....................................................          47,079         196,400          92,597
CDQ ABC reserve.................................................           5,037          21,015           9,908
Amendment 80 ABC reserve........................................          42,042         175,385          82,689
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring

    Sections 679.21(b), (e), (f), and (g) set forth the BSAI PSC 
limits. Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(b)(1), the annual BSAI halibut PSC 
limits total 3,515 mt. Section 679.21(b)(1) allocates 315 mt of the 
halibut PSC limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ 
Program, 1,745 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector, 
745 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the BSAI trawl limited access 
sector, and 710 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the BSAI non-trawl 
sector.
    Sections 679.21(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B) authorize apportionment of 
the BSAI non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC allowances among six 
fishery categories, and Sec. Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B), 
(e)(3)(i)(B), and (e)(3)(iv) require apportionment of the BSAI trawl 
limited access sector's halibut and crab PSC limits into PSC allowances 
among seven fishery categories. Table 10 lists the proposed fishery PSC 
allowances for the BSAI trawl limited access sector fisheries, and 
Table 11 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the non-trawl 
fisheries.
    Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and 
NMFS proposes, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt 
from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consultation with 
the Council, NMFS proposes to exempt the pot gear fishery, the jig gear 
fishery, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories 
from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1)

[[Page 78106]]

The pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS 
estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible 
because of the small size of the fishery and the selectivity of the 
gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries have low halibut 
bycatch mortality because the IFQ Program requires legal-size halibut 
to be retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ 
permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut 
IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the 
vessel is operating (Sec.  679.7(f)(11)).
    As of October 15, 2020, total groundfish catch for the pot gear 
fishery in the BSAI was 19,733 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch 
mortality of 5 mt. The 2020 jig gear fishery harvested about 10 mt of 
groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer 
coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on 
halibut bycatch in the jig gear fishery. As mentioned above, NMFS 
estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of 
the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut 
caught with jig gear and released.
    Under Sec.  679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of 
either 33,318, 45,000, 47,591, or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits 
among the AFA sectors, depending on past bycatch performance, on 
whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements (IPAs) are 
formed, and on whether NMFS determines it is a low Chinook salmon 
abundance year. NMFS will determine that it is a low Chinook salmon 
abundance year when abundance of Chinook salmon in western Alaska is 
less than or equal to 250,000 Chinook salmon. The State provides to 
NMFS an estimate of Chinook salmon abundance using the 3-System Index 
for western Alaska, based on the Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and Upper Yukon 
aggregate stock grouping.
    If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not 
exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6), and if it 
is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a 
portion of the 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no IPA is approved, or if 
the sector has exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  
679.21(f)(6), and if it is not a low abundance year, then NMFS will 
allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that 
sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). If an AFA sector 
participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance 
standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, then NMFS 
will allocate a portion of the 45,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that 
sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). If no IPA is 
approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under 
Sec.  679.21(f)(6), and if in a low abundance year, then NMFS will 
allocate a portion of the 33,318 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that 
sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D).
    NMFS has determined that 2020 was a low Chinook salmon abundance 
year, based on the State's estimate that Chinook salmon abundance in 
western Alaska is less than 250,000 Chinook salmon. Therefore, in 2021, 
the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 45,000 Chinook salmon, allocated to 
each sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). The AFA sector 
Chinook salmon allocations are also seasonally apportioned with 70 
percent of the allocation for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 
percent of the allocation for the B season pollock fishery (Sec. Sec.  
679.21(f)(3)(i) and 679.23(e)(2)). In 2021, the Chinook salmon bycatch 
performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6) is 33,318 Chinook salmon, 
allocated to each sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D). 
NMFS publishes the approved IPAs, allocations, and reports at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska.
    Section 679.21(g)(2)(i) specifies 700 fish as the 2021 and 2022 
Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI pollock fishery. Section 
679.21(g)(2)(ii) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI 
PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and allocates the remaining 647 
Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries.
    Section 679.21(f)(14)(i) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2021 and 2022 
non-Chinook salmon PSC limit for vessels using trawl gear from August 
15 through October 14 in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area (CVOA). 
Section 679.21(f)(14)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494 non-Chinook 
salmon, in the CVOA as the PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and 
allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA to the 
non-CDQ fisheries.
    PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on 
abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as 
of October 2020 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the 
Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, basing the herring 2021 and 
2022 PSC limits and apportionments on the 2019 survey data. The Council 
will reconsider these amounts in December 2020. Section 
679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl gear PSC 
limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ 
Program.
    Based on the most recent (2019) survey data, the red king crab 
mature female abundance is estimated at 9.668 million red king crabs, 
and the effective spawning biomass is estimated at 25.120 million lbs 
(11,394 mt). Based on the criteria set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(i), 
the proposed 2021 and 2022 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for 
trawl gear is 97,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female 
abundance estimate of more than 8.4 million red king crab and the 
effective spawning biomass estimate of more than 14.5 million lbs 
(6,577 mt) but less than 55 million lbs (24,948 mt).
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which 
NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red 
King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS) if the State has established a GHL 
fishery for red king crab in the Bristol Bay area in the previous year. 
The regulations limit the bycatch in the RKCSS to up to 25 percent of 
the red king crab PSC allowance, based on the need to optimize the 
groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. NMFS proposes the 
Council's recommendation that the red king crab bycatch limit within 
the RKCSS for 2021 and 2022 be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab 
PSC allowance (Table 9).
    Based on the most recent (2019) survey data from the NMFS annual 
bottom trawl survey, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is 
estimated at 541 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at Sec.  
679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2021 and 2022 C. bairdi crab PSC limit 
for trawl gear is 980,000 animals in Zone 1, and 2,970,000 animals in 
Zone 2. The limit in Zone 1 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi 
(estimated at 541 million animals), which is greater than 400 million 
animals. The limit in Zone 2 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi 
(estimated at 541 million animals), which is greater than 400 million 
animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for trawl gear 
for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by 
the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in 
the C. opilio bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent 
of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs. Based on the 
most recent (2019) survey estimate of 11.57 billion animals, the 
calculated C. opilio crab

[[Page 78107]]

PSC limit is 13,108,810 animals. If the total abundance times 0.1133 
percent is greater than 13 million, then the maximum PSC is set at 
12.850 million animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring 
caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 
percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best 
estimate of 2021 and 2022 herring biomass is 253,207 mt. This amount 
was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on 
biomass for spawning aggregations. Therefore, the herring PSC limit 
proposed for 2021 and 2022 is 2,532 mt for all trawl gear as listed in 
Tables 8 and 9.
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires that PSQ reserves be subtracted 
from the total trawl PSC limits. The 2021 crab and halibut PSC limits 
assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are 
listed in Table 35 to 50 CFR part 679. The resulting proposed 
allocations of crab and halibut PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 
sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access sector are listed in Table 8. 
Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(i), 679.21(e)(3)(vi), and 679.91(d) 
through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC limits assigned to the 
Amendment 80 sector are then further allocated to Amendment 80 
cooperatives as cooperative quotas. Crab and halibut PSC cooperative 
quotas assigned to Amendment 80 cooperatives are not allocated to 
specific fishery categories.
    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2021 fishing year. 
Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no PSC 
limit allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required 
for 2021. The 2022 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2021. NMFS will post the 2022 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the 
Alaska Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2022, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    Sections 679.21(b)(2) and (e)(5) authorize NMFS, after consulting 
with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of halibut and 
crab PSC amounts for the BSAI non-trawl, BSAI trawl limited access, and 
Amendment 80 limited access sectors to maximize the ability of the 
fleet to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. 
The factors considered are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited 
species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species 
relative to prohibited species distribution, (3) prohibited species 
bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species 
biomass and expected catches of target groundfish species, (4) expected 
variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected changes 
in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected start of fishing 
effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal prohibited 
species apportionments on segments of the target groundfish industry. 
Based on this criteria, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, the 
seasonal PSC apportionments in Tables 10 and 11 to maximize harvest 
among gear types, fisheries, and seasons, while minimizing bycatch of 
PSC.

   Table 8--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Apportionment of Prohibited Species Catch Allowances to Non-Trawl Gear, the CDQ Program, Amendment 80, and the BSAI
                                                              Trawl Limited Access Sectors
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             Trawl PSC                      BSAI trawl       BSAI PSC
        PSC species and area \1\             Total PSC     Non-trawl PSC      CDQ PSQ        remaining     Amendment 80   limited access    limits not
                                                                            reserve \2\    after CDQ PSQ    sector \3\        sector       allocated \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI.............           3,515             710             315             n/a           1,745             745             n/a
Herring (mt) BSAI.......................           2,532             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a
Red king crab (animals) Zone 1..........          97,000             n/a          10,379          86,621          43,293          26,489          16,839
C. opilio (animals) COBLZ...............      12,850,000             n/a       1,374,950      11,475,050       5,639,987       3,688,081       2,146,982
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1.........         980,000             n/a         104,860         875,140         368,521         411,228          95,390
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2.........       2,970,000             n/a         317,790       2,652,210         627,778       1,241,500         782,932
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas and zones.
\2\ The CDQ PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit.
\3\ The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits for crab below the total PSC limit. These reductions are not apportioned to
  other gear types or sectors.


    Table 9--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Herring and Red King Crab Savings
    Subarea Prohibited Species Catch Allowances for all Trawl Sectors
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Red king crab
           Fishery categories              Herring (mt)   (animals) Zone
                                               BSAI              1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole..........................             110             n/a
Rock sole/flathead sole/Alaska plaice/                54             n/a
 other flatfish \1\.....................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/                  7             n/a
 Kamchatka flounder/sablefish...........
Rockfish................................               7             n/a
Pacific cod.............................              13             n/a
Midwater trawl pollock..................           2,299             n/a
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 2 3.              42             n/a
Red king crab savings subarea non-                   n/a          24,250
 pelagic trawl gear \4\.................

[[Page 78108]]

 
Total trawl PSC.........................           2,532          97,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species,
  except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth
  flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock
  sole, and yellowfin sole.
\2\ Pollock other than midwater trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and
  ``other species'' fishery category.
\3\ Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and
  octopuses.
\4\ In October 2020, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes that the
  red king crab bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the
  RKCSS be limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see
  Sec.   679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)).
Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


 Table 10--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for the BSAI Trawl Limited Access Sector
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Prohibited species and area \1\
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BSAI trawl limited access sector      Halibut      Red king crab     C. opilio          C. bairdi (animals)
            fisheries             mortality (mt)  (animals) Zone     (animals)   -------------------------------
                                       BSAI              1             COBLZ          Zone 1          Zone 2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole..................             150          23,338       3,476,708         346,228       1,185,500
Rock sole/flathead sole/other     ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............
 flatfish \2\...................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth       ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............
 flounder/Kamchatka flounder/
 sablefish......................
Rockfish April 15-December 31...               4  ..............           5,743  ..............           1,000
Pacific cod.....................             391           2,954         148,192          60,000          49,999
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other                  200             197          57,438           5,000           5,000
 species \3\....................
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total BSAI trawl limited                 745          26,489       3,688,081         411,228       1,241,500
     access sector PSC..........
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas and zones.
\2\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole,
  and yellowfin sole.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and octopuses.
Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


     Table 11--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Halibut Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for Non-Trawl Fisheries
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Catcher/
          Non-trawl fisheries                    Seasons             processor    Catcher vessel   All Non-Trawl
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod...........................  Annual Pacific cod......             648              13             661
                                        January 1-June 10.......             388               9             n/a
                                        June 10-August 15.......             162               2             n/a
                                        August 15-December 31...              98               2             n/a
Non-Pacific cod non-trawl--Total......  May 1-December 31.......             n/a             n/a              49
Groundfish pot and jig................  n/a.....................             n/a             n/a          Exempt
Sablefish hook-and-line...............  n/a.....................             n/a             n/a          Exempt
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total for all non-trawl PSC.......  n/a.....................             n/a             n/a             710
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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 BSAI stock 
assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an 
appendix to the annual BSAI groundfish SAFE report.
    In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the 
Council's directive. An interagency halibut working group 
(International Pacific Halibut Commission, Council, and NMFS staff) 
developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the 
Plan Team, SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology 
is included in the BSAI proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications 
(81 FR 87863; December

[[Page 78109]]

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 used 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 2-year reference period. 
Comparing the proposed 2021 and 2022 DMRs to the final DMRs from the 
2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, the DMR for motherships and CPs 
using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 84 percent from 75 percent, 
the DMR for CVs using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 59 percent 
from 58 percent, the DMR for CPs using hook-and-line gear remained at 9 
percent, the DMR for CVs using hook-and-line gear remained at 9 
percent, and the DMR for pot gear increased to 32 percent from 27 
percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 DMRs.

Table 12--Proposed 2021 and 2022 Pacific Halibut Discard Mortality Rates
                           (DMR) for the BSAI
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Halibut
                                                              discard
               Gear                        Sector         mortality rate
                                                             (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pelagic trawl.....................  All.................             100
Non-pelagic trawl.................  Mothership and                    84
                                     catcher/processor.
Non-pelagic trawl.................  Catcher vessel......              59
Hook-and-line.....................  Catcher vessel......               9
Hook-and-line.....................  Catcher/processor...               9
Pot...............................  All.................              32
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Listed AFA C/P Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA CPs to engage in 
directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect 
participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects 
resulting from the AFA fishery and from fishery cooperatives in the 
directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are set out as sideboard 
limits on catch. On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 
FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA CPs 
from directed fishing for groundfish species or species groups subject 
to sideboard limits (see Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 54 to 50 
CFR part 679). NMFS proposes to exempt AFA CPs from a yellowfin sole 
sideboard limit pursuant to Sec.  679.64(a)(1)(v) because the proposed 
2021 and 2022 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the 
Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater 
than 125,000 mt.
    Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to 50 CFR part 679 
establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for halibut 
and crab caught by listed AFA CPs. The basis for these sideboard limits 
is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major 
provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692; December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 
(72 FR 52668; September 14, 2007). PSC species listed in Table 13 that 
are caught by listed AFA CPs participating in any groundfish fishery 
other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2021 and 2022 PSC 
sideboard limits for the listed AFA CPs. Sections 679.21(b)(4)(iii), 
(e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for 
groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA CPs once a proposed 2021 
or 2022 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 13 is reached. Pursuant to 
Sec. Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC 
by listed AFA CPs while fishing for pollock will accrue against the PSC 
allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/``other 
species'' fishery categories, according to Sec. Sec.  
679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).

    Table 13--Proposed 2021 and 2022 BSAI American Fisheries Act Listed Catcher/Processor Prohibited Species
                                                Sideboard Limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Proposed 2021
                                                                                   and 2022 PSC
                                                                                   available to    Proposed 2021
                    PSC species and area \1\                       Ratio of PSC    trawl vessels    and 2022 CP
                                                                   to total PSC        after         sideboard
                                                                                  subtraction of     limit \2\
                                                                                      PSQ \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BSAI Halibut mortality..........................................             n/a             n/a             286
Red king crab Zone 1............................................           0.007          86,621             606
C. opilio (COBLZ)...............................................           0.153      11,475,050       1,755,683
C. bairdi Zone 1................................................           0.140         875,140         122,520
C. bairdi Zone 2................................................           0.050       2,652,210         132,611
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas and zones.
\2\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.


[[Page 78110]]

AFA CV Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of AFA CVs to engage in 
directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect 
participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects 
resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the pollock 
directed fishery. On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 
FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA CVs 
from directed fishing for a majority of the groundfish species or 
species groups subject to sideboard limits (see Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 55 to 50 CFR part 679). The remainder of 
the sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs are proposed in Table 14.
    Sections 679.64(b)(3) and (b)(4) establish formulas for setting AFA 
CV groundfish and halibut and crab PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. 
The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the 
final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692; 
December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668; September 14, 2007). 
NMFS proposes to exempt AFA CVs from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit 
pursuant to Sec.  679.64(b)(6) because the proposed 2021 and 2022 
aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector 
and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Table 
14 lists the proposed 2021 and 2022 AFA CV sideboard limits.

  Table 14--Proposed 2021 and 2022 BSAI Pacific Cod Sideboard Limits for American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessels
                                                      (CVs)
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   2021 and 2022
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-                    AFA catcher
                   Fishery by area/gear/season                      1997 AFA CV    2021 and 2022      vessel
                                                                  catch to 1995-    initial TAC      sideboard
                                                                     1997 TAC                         limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BSAI............................................................             n/a             n/a             n/a
Trawl gear CV...................................................             n/a             n/a             n/a
    Jan 20-Apr 1................................................          0.8609          15,543          13,381
    Apr 1-Jun 10................................................          0.8609           2,310           1,989
    Jun 10-Nov 1................................................          0.8609           3,151           2,713
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: As proposed, Sec.   679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA catcher vessels from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because
  the 2021 and 2022 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited
  access sector is greater than 125,000 mt.

    Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 15 that are caught by 
AFA CVs participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will 
accrue against the 2021 and 2022 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA CVs. 
Sections 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to 
close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA CVs 
once a proposed 2021 and 2022 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 15 is 
reached. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), 
halibut or crab PSC by AFA CVs while fishing for pollock in the BS will 
accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for the pollock/
Atka mackerel/``other species'' fishery categories under Sec. Sec.  
679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).

Table 15--Proposed 2021 and 2022 American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Prohibited Species Catch Sideboard Limits
                                                for the BSAI \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Proposed 2021
                                                                    AFA catcher    and 2022 PSC    Proposed 2021
                                                                    vessel PSC      limit after    and 2022 AFA
      PSC species and area \1\       Target fishery category \2\     sideboard    subtraction of  catcher vessel
                                                                    limit ratio    PSQ reserves    PSC sideboard
                                                                                        \3\          limit \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut............................  Pacific cod trawl..........             n/a             n/a             887
                                     Pacific cod hook-and-line               n/a             n/a               2
                                      or pot.
                                     Yellowfin sole total.......             n/a             n/a             101
                                     Rock sole/flathead sole/                n/a             n/a             228
                                      Alaska plaice/other
                                      flatfish \4\.
                                     Greenland turbot/arrowtooth             n/a             n/a
                                      flounder/Kamchatka
                                      flounder/sablefish.
                                     Rockfish...................             n/a             n/a               2
                                     Pollock/Atka mackerel/other             n/a             n/a               5
                                      species \5\.
Red king crab Zone 1...............  n/a........................          0.2990          86,621          25,900
C. opilio COBLZ....................  n/a........................          0.1680      11,475,050       1,927,808
C. bairdi Zone 1...................  n/a........................          0.3300         875,140         288,796
C. bairdi Zone 2...................  n/a........................          0.1860       2,652,210         493,311
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas and zones.
\2\ Target fishery categories are defined at Sec.   679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).
\3\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.
\4\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole,
  and yellowfin sole.
\5\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and octopuses.


[[Page 78111]]

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 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 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 gross 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 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 661 
individual CVs and CPs with gross revenues less than or equal to $11 
million as well as six CDQ groups. 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 BSAI are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, Gulf of 
Alaska Rockfish Program cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization 
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 605 small CV and 56 small CP 
entities remaining in the BSAI groundfish sector. However, the estimate 
of these 605 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, hook-and-line CPs, and pot gear CPs are 
estimated to be $500,000, $1.4 million, $2.9 million, $7.0 million, and 
$3.5 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 prohibited species catch 
limits for the groundfish fishery of the BSAI. 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 BSAI. 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 
sum of all TACs remains within the OY for the BSAI consistent with 
Sec.  679.20(a)(1)(i)(A). Because setting all TACs equal to ABCs would 
cause the sum of TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt, TACs for some 
species or species groups are lower than the ABCs recommended by the 
Plan Team and the SSC.
    The proposed 2021 and 2022 OFLs and ABCs are based on the best

[[Page 78112]]

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 some species and species groups in the BSAI, 
the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, proposed TACs equal to 
proposed ABCs, which is intended to maximize harvest opportunities in 
the BSAI. However, NMFS cannot set TACs for all species in the BSAI 
equal to their ABCs due to the constraining OY limit of two million mt. 
For this reason, some proposed TACs are less than the proposed ABCs. 
The specific reductions are reviewed and recommended by the Council's 
AP, and the Council in turn adopted the AP's TAC recommendations for 
the proposed 2021 and 2022 TACs.
    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 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 BSAI, including small entities. The action proposes 
TACs for commercially-valuable species in the BSAI 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. 2020-26598 Filed 12-1-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P