Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Halibut Abundance-Based Management of Amendment 80 Prohibited Species Catch Limit, 50331-50333 [2021-19380]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 171 / Wednesday, September 8, 2021 / Notices issues specifically identified in the agenda and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council’s intent to take-action to address the emergency. Special Accommodations These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aid should be directed to Kathy Pereira, (813) 348–1630, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: September 3, 2021. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–19487 Filed 9–7–21; 8:45 am] Dated: September 3, 2021. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. The meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aid should be directed to Shelley Spedden, (302) 526–5251, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: September 3, 2021. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–19484 Filed 9–7–21; 8:45 am] Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; public meeting. AGENCY: The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Advisory Panel will hold a public meeting. DATES: The meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 from 9:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. For agenda details, see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held via webinar. Webinar connection information will be available at: https:// www.mafmc.org/council-events. Council address: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 N State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901; telephone: (302) 674–2331; www.mafmc.org. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christopher M. Moore, Ph.D., Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, telephone: (302) 526–5255. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The MidAtlantic Fishery Management Council’s Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Advisory Panel will meet to provide input on a SUMMARY: Jkt 253001 [FR Doc. 2021–19493 Filed 9–7–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XB330] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; public meeting. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Spiny Dogfish Committee will hold a public meeting. DATES: The meeting will be held on Friday, October 1, 2021; from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. For agenda details, see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held via webinar. Webinar connection information will be available at: https:// www.mafmc.org/council-events. Council address: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 N State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901; telephone: (302) 674–2331 or on their website at www.mafmc.org. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christopher M. Moore, Ph.D., Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, telephone: (302) 526–5255. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of the meeting is for the Spiny Dogfish Committee to provide recommendations regarding future specifications, including potential federal trip limit modifications. SUMMARY: Special Accommodations The meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Halibut Abundance-Based Management of Amendment 80 Prohibited Species Catch Limit National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability of a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS); request for comments. AGENCY: AGENCY: [RTID: 0648–XB359] jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Special Accommodations Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); Public Meeting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 17:21 Sep 07, 2021 sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aid should be directed to Shelley Spedden at (302) 526–5251, at least 5 days prior to any meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. [RTID: 0648–XB411] DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE VerDate Sep<11>2014 draft document being prepared for the Council to address issues related to the species separation requirements in the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration BILLING CODE 3510–22–P 50331 Sfmt 4703 This DEIS is prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to assess the environmental impacts from alternatives associated with a proposed management measure to link the Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for the Amendment 80 commercial groundfish trawl fleet in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) groundfish fisheries to halibut abundance. The objectives of linking the PSC limit are to minimize halibut PSC to the extent practicable under National Standard 9 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and to achieve optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries on a continuing basis under National Standard 1. The action would also be expected to provide incentives for the Amendment 80 fleet to minimize halibut mortality at all times. Achievement of these objectives could result in additional harvest opportunities in the commercial halibut fishery. DATES: Comments must be received on or before October 25, 2021. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2021–0074, by any of the following methods: SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\08SEN1.SGM 08SEN1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 50332 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 171 / Wednesday, September 8, 2021 / Notices • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and enter NOAA–NMFS–2021–0074 in the Search box. Click the ‘‘Comment’’ 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: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of the DEIS may be obtained from https:// www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/bycatch/ bering-sea-and-aleutian-islands-bsaihalibut-abundance-based-management. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joseph Krieger, telephone: 907–586– 7221. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and NMFS manage Pacific halibut fisheries through regulations established under the authority of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (Halibut Act) (16 U.S.C. 773–773k). The IPHC adopts regulations governing the target fishery for Pacific halibut under the Convention between the United States of America and Canada for the Preservation of the Halibut Fishery of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea (Convention), signed at Ottawa, Ontario, on March 2, 1953, as amended by a Protocol Amending the Convention (signed at Washington, DC, on March 29, 1979). For the United States, regulations governing the fishery for Pacific halibut developed by the IPHC are subject to acceptance by the Secretary of State with concurrence from the Secretary of Commerce. After acceptance by the Secretary of State with the concurrence of the Secretary of Commerce, NMFS publishes the IPHC regulations in the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:21 Sep 07, 2021 Jkt 253001 Federal Register as annual management measures pursuant to 50 CFR 300.62. IPHC and NMFS regulations authorize the harvest of halibut in commercial, personal use, sport and subsistence fisheries by hook-and-line gear and pot gear. In the BSAI, (which largely coincides with IPHC Regulatory Area 4 (hereafter referred to as ‘‘Area 4’’) and its five subsareas (ABCDE)), halibut is harvested in all of these fisheries. Section 5(c) of the Halibut Act also provides the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (Council) with authority to develop regulations that are in addition to, and not in conflict with, approved IPHC regulations. The Council has exercised this authority in the development of Federal regulations for the halibut fishery such as (1) subsistence halibut fishery management measures, codified at 50 CFR 300.65; (2) the limited access program for charter vessels in the guided sport fishery, codified at § 300.67; and (3) the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program for the commercial halibut and sablefish fisheries, codified at 50 CFR part 679, under the authority of Section 5 of the Halibut Act and Section 303(b) of the MSA. The Council manages the groundfish fisheries of the BSAI under the authority of the MSA and the Fishery Management Plan for the Groundfish for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI FMP). National Standard 9 of the MSA requires that fishery conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable: (1) Minimize bycatch; and (2) to the extent bycatch cannot be avoided, minimize the mortality of such bycatch. In the BSAI FMP, the Council has designated Pacific halibut, along with several other fully utilized species such as salmon, herring, and crab species, as ‘‘prohibited species’’ in the groundfish fisheries (Section 3.6.1 of the BSAI FMP). By regulation, the operator of any vessel fishing for groundfish in the BSAI must minimize the catch of prohibited species (§ 679.21(a)(2)(i)). The Council has also set catch limits for individual PSC species, which are defined in BSAI FMP Section 3.6.2.1. Under the designation as a PSC species; their capture is required to be avoided; and their retention is prohibited except when retention is required or authorized by other applicable law. Unintended removals of prohibited species are separately monitored and controlled under the BSAI FMP. The Council does not have authority to set catch limits for the commercial halibut fisheries, and halibut PSC in the groundfish fisheries is only one of the factors that affects harvest limits for the PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 commercial halibut fisheries. Nonetheless, halibut PSC in the groundfish fisheries is a significant portion of total mortality in BSAI IPHC areas and has the potential to affect catch limits for the commercial halibut fisheries in Area 4 under the current IPHC harvest policy. While the impact of halibut PSC reductions on catch limits for commercial halibut fisheries is dependent on IPHC policy and management decisions, reductions to the current Amendment 80 halibut PSC limit in the BSAI could provide additional harvest opportunities in the BSAI commercial halibut fishery. A Notice of Intent to prepare this DEIS was published in the Federal Register on December 12, 2017 (82 FR 58374). This DEIS analyzes alternative management measures to link the Pacific halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 commercial groundfish trawl fleet in the BSAI groundfish fisheries to halibut abundance. The Council is considering a program that provides incentives for the fleet to minimize halibut mortality at all times, that could promote conservation of the halibut stock, and may provide additional opportunities for the directed halibut fishery. Pacific halibut is targeted in Alaska in commercial, personal use, recreational (sport), and subsistence halibut fisheries. Halibut has significant social, cultural, and economic importance to fishery participants and communities throughout the geographic range of the resource. Halibut is also incidentally taken as bycatch in commercial groundfish fisheries. The Council is examining abundancebased approaches to set the halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector in the BSAI. Currently halibut PSC limits for groundfish fishery sectors are set in the BSAI FMP at a fixed amount of halibut mortality in metric tons. When halibut abundance declines, halibut PSC becomes a larger proportion of total halibut removals and can result in lower catch limits for directed halibut fisheries. This action is limited to the Amendment 80 sector because that sector is responsible for the majority of BSAI halibut mortality in the groundfish fisheries. In light of the continued decline of the halibut stock, both the Council and the IPHC have expressed concern about impacts on directed halibut fisheries under the status quo and identified abundance-based halibut PSC limits as a potential management approach to address these concerns. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. E:\FR\FM\08SEN1.SGM 08SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 171 / Wednesday, September 8, 2021 / Notices Dated: September 2, 2021. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–19380 Filed 9–7–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P of business as necessary. The agenda is subject to change, and the latest version will be posted at https:// meetings.npfmc.org/Meeting/Details/ 2500 prior to the meeting, along with meeting materials. Connection Information You can attend the meeting online using a computer, tablet, or smart phone; or by phone only. Connection information will be posted online at: https://meetings.npfmc.org/Meeting/ Details/2500. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XB402] North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting Public Comment National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of web conference. AGENCY: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Committee (IFQ Committee) will meet. DATES: The meeting will be held on Monday, September 27, 2021, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Alaska Time. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be a web conference. Join online through the link at https://meetings.npfmc.org/Meeting/ Details/2500. Council address: North Pacific Fishery Management Council, 1007 W 3rd Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501–2252; telephone: (907) 271–2809. Instructions for attending the meeting via video conference are given under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION, below. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Marrinan, Council staff; phone; (907) 271–2809; email: sarah.marrinan@ noaa.gov. For technical support please contact our admin Council staff, email: npfmc.admin@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Agenda Monday, September 27, 2021 The IFQ Committee agenda will include the review of the Initial Review Analysis of an Omnibus IFQ amendment package. Under consideration in this package are proposed changes to regulations regarding the sablefish pot fishery: Including gear specifications, buoy requirements, pot limits, and gear retrieval. Additionally, this package considers authorizing jig gear as a legal gear type to harvest sablefish IFQ and temporarily removing the Adak CQE residency requirement. There will be time scheduled on the agenda for NMFS update on IFQ related issues and the Committee may also address other items VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:21 Sep 07, 2021 Jkt 253001 Public comment letters will be accepted and should be submitted electronically to https:// meetings.npfmc.org/Meeting/Details/ 2500. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: September 3, 2021. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–19486 Filed 9–7–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary [Docket ID: DoD–2021–OS–0077] Notice of Request for Comments on Barriers Facing Small Businesses in Contracting With the Department of Defense Office of Small Business Programs, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Industrial Policy), Department of Defense (DoD). ACTION: Notice of request for public comments. AGENCY: The participation of dynamic, resilient, and innovative small businesses in the defense industrial base is critical to the United States’ efforts to maintain its technological superiority, military readiness, and warfighting advantage. In furtherance of its efforts to maximize opportunities for small businesses to contribute to national security, the Department seeks public input on the barriers that small businesses face in working with the Department. This input will be used to update the Department’s Small Business Strategy led by the DoD Office of Small Business Programs. DATES: The due date for submitting comments is October 25, 2021. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by docket number and title, by any of the following methods: SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 50333 Federal eRulemaking Portal: https:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Mail: DoD cannot receive written comments at this time due to the COVID–19 pandemic. Comments should be sent electronically to the docket listed above. Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name, docket number and title for this Federal Register document. The general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the public is to make these submissions available as they are received, without change, including any personal identifiers or contact information for public viewing on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Victoria Mundt, Associate Director, of the Office of Small Business Programs, at (703) 697–0051 or osd.business.defense@mail.mil. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background President Biden issued Executive Order (E.O.) 14017, ‘‘America’s Supply Chains’’; E.O. 13985, ‘‘Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government’’; and E.O. 14036, ‘‘Promoting Competition in the American Economy.’’ E.O. 14017 focuses on the need for resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains to ensure U.S. economic prosperity and national security. E.O. 13985 focuses on identifying potential barriers that underserved communities and individuals may face in taking advantage of agency procurement and contracting opportunities. E.O. 14036 focuses on reviewing the state of competition within the defense industrial base, including areas where a lack of competition may be of concern. In support of E.O.s and through DoD’s Small Business Strategy, DoD is focusing on reducing barriers to entry that can reduce critical manufacturing capacity, competition and the availability and integrity of vital goods, products, and services. Small businesses play a major role in the DoD’s supply chains, and they allow the U.S. to maintain its technological superiority, military readiness, and warfighting advantages. These companies also play a crucial role in ensuring supply chain resilience. Last year, the Department awarded a record $80 billion dollars to small businesses through prime contracts, of which over $30 billion dollars was awarded to small disadvantaged businesses. Still, over the last decade small businesses in the defense industrial base E:\FR\FM\08SEN1.SGM 08SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 171 (Wednesday, September 8, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 50331-50333]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-19380]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XB330]


Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Halibut Abundance-Based 
Management of Amendment 80 Prohibited Species Catch Limit

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

ACTION: Notice of availability of a draft environmental impact 
statement (DEIS); request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: This DEIS is prepared pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) to assess the environmental impacts from alternatives 
associated with a proposed management measure to link the Pacific 
halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) prohibited species catch (PSC) limit 
for the Amendment 80 commercial groundfish trawl fleet in the Bering 
Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) groundfish fisheries to halibut 
abundance. The objectives of linking the PSC limit are to minimize 
halibut PSC to the extent practicable under National Standard 9 of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and to 
achieve optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries on a continuing 
basis under National Standard 1. The action would also be expected to 
provide incentives for the Amendment 80 fleet to minimize halibut 
mortality at all times. Achievement of these objectives could result in 
additional harvest opportunities in the commercial halibut fishery.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before October 25, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2021-0074, 
by any of the following methods:

[[Page 50332]]

     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and enter NOAA-NMFS-2021-0074 in the Search box. 
Click the ``Comment'' 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: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, 
or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter 
``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
    Electronic copies of the DEIS may be obtained from https://www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/bycatch/bering-sea-and-aleutian-islands-bsai-halibut-abundance-based-management.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joseph Krieger, telephone: 907-586-
7221.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The International Pacific Halibut Commission 
(IPHC) and NMFS manage Pacific halibut fisheries through regulations 
established under the authority of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 
1982 (Halibut Act) (16 U.S.C. 773-773k). The IPHC adopts regulations 
governing the target fishery for Pacific halibut under the Convention 
between the United States of America and Canada for the Preservation of 
the Halibut Fishery of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea 
(Convention), signed at Ottawa, Ontario, on March 2, 1953, as amended 
by a Protocol Amending the Convention (signed at Washington, DC, on 
March 29, 1979). For the United States, regulations governing the 
fishery for Pacific halibut developed by the IPHC are subject to 
acceptance by the Secretary of State with concurrence from the 
Secretary of Commerce. After acceptance by the Secretary of State with 
the concurrence of the Secretary of Commerce, NMFS publishes the IPHC 
regulations in the Federal Register as annual management measures 
pursuant to 50 CFR 300.62. IPHC and NMFS regulations authorize the 
harvest of halibut in commercial, personal use, sport and subsistence 
fisheries by hook-and-line gear and pot gear. In the BSAI, (which 
largely coincides with IPHC Regulatory Area 4 (hereafter referred to as 
``Area 4'') and its five subsareas (ABCDE)), halibut is harvested in 
all of these fisheries.
    Section 5(c) of the Halibut Act also provides the North Pacific 
Fisheries Management Council (Council) with authority to develop 
regulations that are in addition to, and not in conflict with, approved 
IPHC regulations. The Council has exercised this authority in the 
development of Federal regulations for the halibut fishery such as (1) 
subsistence halibut fishery management measures, codified at 50 CFR 
300.65; (2) the limited access program for charter vessels in the 
guided sport fishery, codified at Sec.  300.67; and (3) the Individual 
Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program for the commercial halibut and sablefish 
fisheries, codified at 50 CFR part 679, under the authority of Section 
5 of the Halibut Act and Section 303(b) of the MSA.
    The Council manages the groundfish fisheries of the BSAI under the 
authority of the MSA and the Fishery Management Plan for the Groundfish 
for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI FMP). National Standard 9 
of the MSA requires that fishery conservation and management measures 
shall, to the extent practicable: (1) Minimize bycatch; and (2) to the 
extent bycatch cannot be avoided, minimize the mortality of such 
bycatch.
    In the BSAI FMP, the Council has designated Pacific halibut, along 
with several other fully utilized species such as salmon, herring, and 
crab species, as ``prohibited species'' in the groundfish fisheries 
(Section 3.6.1 of the BSAI FMP). By regulation, the operator of any 
vessel fishing for groundfish in the BSAI must minimize the catch of 
prohibited species (Sec.  679.21(a)(2)(i)). The Council has also set 
catch limits for individual PSC species, which are defined in BSAI FMP 
Section 3.6.2.1. Under the designation as a PSC species; their capture 
is required to be avoided; and their retention is prohibited except 
when retention is required or authorized by other applicable law. 
Unintended removals of prohibited species are separately monitored and 
controlled under the BSAI FMP.
    The Council does not have authority to set catch limits for the 
commercial halibut fisheries, and halibut PSC in the groundfish 
fisheries is only one of the factors that affects harvest limits for 
the commercial halibut fisheries. Nonetheless, halibut PSC in the 
groundfish fisheries is a significant portion of total mortality in 
BSAI IPHC areas and has the potential to affect catch limits for the 
commercial halibut fisheries in Area 4 under the current IPHC harvest 
policy. While the impact of halibut PSC reductions on catch limits for 
commercial halibut fisheries is dependent on IPHC policy and management 
decisions, reductions to the current Amendment 80 halibut PSC limit in 
the BSAI could provide additional harvest opportunities in the BSAI 
commercial halibut fishery.
    A Notice of Intent to prepare this DEIS was published in the 
Federal Register on December 12, 2017 (82 FR 58374). This DEIS analyzes 
alternative management measures to link the Pacific halibut PSC limit 
for the Amendment 80 commercial groundfish trawl fleet in the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries to halibut abundance. The Council is considering a 
program that provides incentives for the fleet to minimize halibut 
mortality at all times, that could promote conservation of the halibut 
stock, and may provide additional opportunities for the directed 
halibut fishery.
    Pacific halibut is targeted in Alaska in commercial, personal use, 
recreational (sport), and subsistence halibut fisheries. Halibut has 
significant social, cultural, and economic importance to fishery 
participants and communities throughout the geographic range of the 
resource. Halibut is also incidentally taken as bycatch in commercial 
groundfish fisheries.
    The Council is examining abundance-based approaches to set the 
halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector in the BSAI. Currently 
halibut PSC limits for groundfish fishery sectors are set in the BSAI 
FMP at a fixed amount of halibut mortality in metric tons. When halibut 
abundance declines, halibut PSC becomes a larger proportion of total 
halibut removals and can result in lower catch limits for directed 
halibut fisheries. This action is limited to the Amendment 80 sector 
because that sector is responsible for the majority of BSAI halibut 
mortality in the groundfish fisheries. In light of the continued 
decline of the halibut stock, both the Council and the IPHC have 
expressed concern about impacts on directed halibut fisheries under the 
status quo and identified abundance-based halibut PSC limits as a 
potential management approach to address these concerns.
    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.


[[Page 50333]]


    Dated: September 2, 2021.
Jennifer M. Wallace,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-19380 Filed 9-7-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P