Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 51016-51017 [2021-19777]

Download as PDF 51016 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 175 / Tuesday, September 14, 2021 / Rules and Regulations Dated: September 7, 2021. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–19622 Filed 9–13–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 180117042–8884–02; RTID 0648–XB400] Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; quota transfer. AGENCY: NMFS is transferring 113.8 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the General category. This action is intended to account for an accrued overharvest of 53.8 mt from previous time-period subquotas and to provide further opportunities for General category fishermen to participate in the September General category fishery, based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. This action would affect Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. DATES: Effective September 9, 2021 through September 30, 2021. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Redd, Jr., 301–427–8503, Nicholas Velseboer, 978–281–9260, or Lauren Latchford, 301–427–8503. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic HMS fisheries, including BFT fisheries, are managed under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). The 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments are implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 divides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and as implemented by the United tkelley on DSK125TN23PROD with RULES1 SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:05 Sep 13, 2021 Jkt 253001 States among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. NMFS is required under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest quotas under relevant international fishery agreements such as the ICCAT Convention, which is implemented domestically pursuant to ATCA. The current baseline General and Reserve category quotas are 555.7 mt and 29.5 mt, respectively. The General category baseline subquota for the September time-period is 147.3 mt. Any unused General category quota rolls forward from one time-period to the next and is available for use in subsequent time-periods. To date for 2021, NMFS has published three actions that resulted in adjustments to the General and Reserve category quotas. The current adjusted quotas are 138 mt for the Reserve category, 75 mt for the General category January through March 2021 subquota period, and 9.4 mt for the December 2021 subquota period (85 FR 83832, December 23, 2020; 86 FR 8717, February 9, 2021; 86 FR 43420, August 9, 2021). Transfer of 113.8 mt From the Reserve Category to the General Category Under § 635.27(a)(9), NMFS has the authority to transfer quota among fishing categories or subcategories after considering determination criteria provided under § 635.27(a)(8). NMFS has considered all of the relevant determination criteria and their applicability to this inseason quota transfer. These considerations include, but are not limited to, the following: Regarding the usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the stock (§ 635.27(a)(8)(i)), biological samples collected from BFT landed by General category fishermen and provided by tuna dealers provide NMFS with valuable parts and data for ongoing scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. Additional opportunity to land BFT in the General category would support the continued collection of a broad range of data for these studies and for stock monitoring purposes. NMFS also considered the catches of the General category quota to date (including during the summer/fall and winter fisheries in the last several years) and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made (§ 635.27(a)(8)(ii) and (ix)). Preliminary landings data as of September 8, 2021, indicate that the PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 General category landed a cumulative total of 406.7 mt through August 31, which exceeds the cumulative adjusted quota available through August 31, i.e., 352.9 mt. Preliminary September landings as of September 8, 2021, are 74.5 mt, which represent 51 percent of the baseline September subquota (147.3 mt). As of September 8, 2021, the General category September time-period subquota has not yet been exceeded, but without a quota transfer at this time, NMFS would likely close the General category fishery shortly, and participants would have to stop BFT fishing activities while commercialsized BFT remain available in the areas where General category permitted vessels operate at this time of year. Transferring 113.8 mt of quota from the Reserve category would account for 53.8 mt of accrued overharvest from the prior time-periods and result in an additional 60 mt being available for the September 2021 subquota time-period, thus effectively providing limited additional opportunities to harvest the U.S. BFT quota while avoiding exceeding it. NMFS also took into consideration a recently published final rule that would set restricted-fishing days for the General category during the months of September through November 2021 (86 FR 43421, August 9, 2021). That rule would further increase the likelihood that the fishery would remain open throughout the subperiod and year. Regarding the projected ability of the vessels fishing under the General category quota to harvest the additional amount of BFT quota transferred before the end of the fishing year (§ 635.27(a)(8)(iii)), NMFS considered General category landings over the last several years and landings to date this year. Landings are highly variable and depend on access to commercial-sized BFT and fishing conditions, among other factors, such as the restrictions that some dealers placed on their purchases of BFT from General category participants this year. A portion of the transferred quota covers the 53.8 mt overharvest in the category to date, and NMFS anticipates that General category participants will be able to harvest the remaining 60 mt of transferred BFT quota by the end of the subquota timeperiod. In the unlikely event that any of this quota is unused by September 30, such quota will roll forward to the next subperiod within the calendar year (i.e., to the October through November period), and NMFS anticipates that it would be used before the end of the fishing year. NMFS also anticipates that some underharvest of the 2020 adjusted U.S. BFT quota will be carried forward E:\FR\FM\14SER1.SGM 14SER1 tkelley on DSK125TN23PROD with RULES1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 175 / Tuesday, September 14, 2021 / Rules and Regulations to 2021 and placed in the Reserve category, in accordance with the regulations. Thus, this quota transfer would allow fishermen to take advantage of the availability of fish on the fishing grounds and provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the available U.S. BFT quota. NMFS also considered the estimated amounts by which quotas for other gear categories of the BFT fishery might be exceeded (§ 635.27(a)(8)(iv)) and the ability to account for all 2021 landings and dead discards. In the last several years, total U.S. BFT landings have been below the available U.S. quota such that the United States has carried forward the maximum amount of underharvest allowed by ICCAT from one year to the next. NMFS will need to account for 2021 landings and dead discards within the adjusted U.S. quota, consistent with ICCAT recommendations, and anticipates having sufficient quota to do that. NMFS also considered the effects of the adjustment on the BFT stock and the effects of the transfer on accomplishing the objectives of the FMP (§ 635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). This transfer would be consistent with established quotas and subquotas, which are implemented consistent with ICCAT recommendations (established in Recommendation 17–06 and maintained in Recommendation 20–06), ATCA, and the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. In establishing these quotas and subquotas and associated management measures, ICCAT and NMFS considered the best scientific information available, objectives for stock management and status, and effects on the stock. This quota transfer is in line with the established management measures and stock status determinations. Another principal consideration is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the available General category quota without exceeding the annual quota, based on the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, including to achieve optimum yield on a continuing basis and to optimize the ability of all permit categories to harvest available BFT quota allocations (related to § 635.27(a)(8)(x)). Specific to the General category, this includes providing opportunities equitably across all time-periods. Given these considerations, NMFS is transferring 113.8 mt of the available 138 mt of Reserve category quota to the General category. Of this amount, 53.8 mt accounts for preliminary overharvest of the January through March and June through August time-period subquotas, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:05 Sep 13, 2021 Jkt 253001 and 60 mt is added to the September subquota. Therefore, NMFS adjusts the General category September 2021 subquota to 207.3 mt after accounting for the 53.8 mt of overharvest through for the prior 2021 time-periods and adjusts the Reserve category quota to 24.2 mt. The General category fishery will remain open until September 30, 2021, or until the adjusted General category quota is reached, whichever comes first. Monitoring and Reporting NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS’ ability to timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustments, as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, General category and HMS Charter/Headboat vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov or by using the HMS Catch Reporting app or calling (888) 872–8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.). Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, NMFS may determine that additional adjustments (e.g., quota adjustment, daily retention limit adjustment, or closure) are necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. If needed, subsequent adjustments will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (978) 281–9260, or access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and inseason adjustments. Classification NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action is taken pursuant to 50 CFR part 635, which was issued pursuant to section 304(c), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the following reasons: The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments provide for inseason PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 51017 retention limit adjustments to respond to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment to implement the quota transfer for the September 2021 time-period is contrary to the public interest as such a delay would likely result in closure of the General category fishery when the baseline subquota for the September time-period is met and the need to re-open the fishery, with attendant costs to the fishery, including administrative costs and lost fishing opportunities. The delay would preclude the fishery from harvesting BFT that are available on the fishing grounds and that might otherwise become unavailable during a delay. This action does not raise conservation and management concerns. Transferring quota from the Reserve category to the General category does not affect the overall U.S. BFT quota, and the adjustment would have a minimal risk of exceeding the ICCAT-allocated quota. NMFS notes that the public had an opportunity to comment on the underlying rulemakings that established the U.S. BFT quota and the inseason adjustment criteria. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For these reasons, there also is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30day delay in effectiveness. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: September 9, 2021. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–19777 Filed 9–9–21; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [RTID 0648–XA696] Fisheries Off West Coast States; West Coast Salmon Fisheries; Amendment 21 to the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of agency decision. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\14SER1.SGM 14SER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 175 (Tuesday, September 14, 2021)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 51016-51017]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-19777]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 180117042-8884-02; RTID 0648-XB400]


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; quota transfer.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS is transferring 113.8 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic 
bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the General 
category. This action is intended to account for an accrued overharvest 
of 53.8 mt from previous time-period subquotas and to provide further 
opportunities for General category fishermen to participate in the 
September General category fishery, based on consideration of the 
regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. This 
action would affect Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) 
permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat 
permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing 
commercially for BFT.

DATES: Effective September 9, 2021 through September 30, 2021.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Redd, Jr., 301-427-8503, 
Nicholas Velseboer, 978-281-9260, or Lauren Latchford, 301-427-8503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic HMS fisheries, including BFT 
fisheries, are managed under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas 
Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 
U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). The 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments are implemented by regulations 
at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 divides the U.S. BFT quota 
recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of 
Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and as implemented by the United States among 
the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations 
established in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. NMFS 
is required under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing 
vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest quotas under relevant 
international fishery agreements such as the ICCAT Convention, which is 
implemented domestically pursuant to ATCA.
    The current baseline General and Reserve category quotas are 555.7 
mt and 29.5 mt, respectively. The General category baseline subquota 
for the September time-period is 147.3 mt. Any unused General category 
quota rolls forward from one time-period to the next and is available 
for use in subsequent time-periods. To date for 2021, NMFS has 
published three actions that resulted in adjustments to the General and 
Reserve category quotas. The current adjusted quotas are 138 mt for the 
Reserve category, 75 mt for the General category January through March 
2021 subquota period, and 9.4 mt for the December 2021 subquota period 
(85 FR 83832, December 23, 2020; 86 FR 8717, February 9, 2021; 86 FR 
43420, August 9, 2021).

Transfer of 113.8 mt From the Reserve Category to the General Category

    Under Sec.  635.27(a)(9), NMFS has the authority to transfer quota 
among fishing categories or subcategories after considering 
determination criteria provided under Sec.  635.27(a)(8). NMFS has 
considered all of the relevant determination criteria and their 
applicability to this inseason quota transfer. These considerations 
include, but are not limited to, the following:
    Regarding the usefulness of information obtained from catches in 
the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the 
status of the stock (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(i)), biological samples 
collected from BFT landed by General category fishermen and provided by 
tuna dealers provide NMFS with valuable parts and data for ongoing 
scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive 
status. Additional opportunity to land BFT in the General category 
would support the continued collection of a broad range of data for 
these studies and for stock monitoring purposes.
    NMFS also considered the catches of the General category quota to 
date (including during the summer/fall and winter fisheries in the last 
several years) and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the 
fishery if no adjustment is made (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(ii) and (ix)). 
Preliminary landings data as of September 8, 2021, indicate that the 
General category landed a cumulative total of 406.7 mt through August 
31, which exceeds the cumulative adjusted quota available through 
August 31, i.e., 352.9 mt. Preliminary September landings as of 
September 8, 2021, are 74.5 mt, which represent 51 percent of the 
baseline September subquota (147.3 mt). As of September 8, 2021, the 
General category September time-period subquota has not yet been 
exceeded, but without a quota transfer at this time, NMFS would likely 
close the General category fishery shortly, and participants would have 
to stop BFT fishing activities while commercial-sized BFT remain 
available in the areas where General category permitted vessels operate 
at this time of year. Transferring 113.8 mt of quota from the Reserve 
category would account for 53.8 mt of accrued overharvest from the 
prior time-periods and result in an additional 60 mt being available 
for the September 2021 subquota time-period, thus effectively providing 
limited additional opportunities to harvest the U.S. BFT quota while 
avoiding exceeding it. NMFS also took into consideration a recently 
published final rule that would set restricted-fishing days for the 
General category during the months of September through November 2021 
(86 FR 43421, August 9, 2021). That rule would further increase the 
likelihood that the fishery would remain open throughout the subperiod 
and year.
    Regarding the projected ability of the vessels fishing under the 
General category quota to harvest the additional amount of BFT quota 
transferred before the end of the fishing year (Sec.  
635.27(a)(8)(iii)), NMFS considered General category landings over the 
last several years and landings to date this year. Landings are highly 
variable and depend on access to commercial-sized BFT and fishing 
conditions, among other factors, such as the restrictions that some 
dealers placed on their purchases of BFT from General category 
participants this year. A portion of the transferred quota covers the 
53.8 mt overharvest in the category to date, and NMFS anticipates that 
General category participants will be able to harvest the remaining 60 
mt of transferred BFT quota by the end of the subquota time-period. In 
the unlikely event that any of this quota is unused by September 30, 
such quota will roll forward to the next subperiod within the calendar 
year (i.e., to the October through November period), and NMFS 
anticipates that it would be used before the end of the fishing year. 
NMFS also anticipates that some underharvest of the 2020 adjusted U.S. 
BFT quota will be carried forward

[[Page 51017]]

to 2021 and placed in the Reserve category, in accordance with the 
regulations. Thus, this quota transfer would allow fishermen to take 
advantage of the availability of fish on the fishing grounds and 
provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the available U.S. BFT 
quota.
    NMFS also considered the estimated amounts by which quotas for 
other gear categories of the BFT fishery might be exceeded (Sec.  
635.27(a)(8)(iv)) and the ability to account for all 2021 landings and 
dead discards. In the last several years, total U.S. BFT landings have 
been below the available U.S. quota such that the United States has 
carried forward the maximum amount of underharvest allowed by ICCAT 
from one year to the next. NMFS will need to account for 2021 landings 
and dead discards within the adjusted U.S. quota, consistent with ICCAT 
recommendations, and anticipates having sufficient quota to do that.
    NMFS also considered the effects of the adjustment on the BFT stock 
and the effects of the transfer on accomplishing the objectives of the 
FMP (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). This transfer would be consistent 
with established quotas and subquotas, which are implemented consistent 
with ICCAT recommendations (established in Recommendation 17-06 and 
maintained in Recommendation 20-06), ATCA, and the objectives of the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. In establishing these quotas 
and subquotas and associated management measures, ICCAT and NMFS 
considered the best scientific information available, objectives for 
stock management and status, and effects on the stock. This quota 
transfer is in line with the established management measures and stock 
status determinations. Another principal consideration is the objective 
of providing opportunities to harvest the available General category 
quota without exceeding the annual quota, based on the objectives of 
the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, including to achieve 
optimum yield on a continuing basis and to optimize the ability of all 
permit categories to harvest available BFT quota allocations (related 
to Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(x)). Specific to the General category, this 
includes providing opportunities equitably across all time-periods.
    Given these considerations, NMFS is transferring 113.8 mt of the 
available 138 mt of Reserve category quota to the General category. Of 
this amount, 53.8 mt accounts for preliminary overharvest of the 
January through March and June through August time-period subquotas, 
and 60 mt is added to the September subquota. Therefore, NMFS adjusts 
the General category September 2021 subquota to 207.3 mt after 
accounting for the 53.8 mt of overharvest through for the prior 2021 
time-periods and adjusts the Reserve category quota to 24.2 mt. The 
General category fishery will remain open until September 30, 2021, or 
until the adjusted General category quota is reached, whichever comes 
first.

Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely. Dealers are 
required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer 
receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS' ability to 
timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustments, 
as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. 
Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, 
General category and HMS Charter/Headboat vessel owners are required to 
report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours 
of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov 
or by using the HMS Catch Reporting app or calling (888) 872-8862 
(Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).
    Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, 
NMFS may determine that additional adjustments (e.g., quota adjustment, 
daily retention limit adjustment, or closure) are necessary to ensure 
available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data 
collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. If 
needed, subsequent adjustments will be published in the Federal 
Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas 
Information Line at (978) 281-9260, or access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for 
updates on quota monitoring and inseason adjustments.

Classification

    NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. This action is taken pursuant to 50 CFR part 635, which 
was issued pursuant to section 304(c), and is exempt from review under 
Executive Order 12866.
    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior 
notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for 
the following reasons:
    The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments provide for inseason retention limit adjustments to respond 
to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, 
the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in 
the BFT fishery. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public 
comment to implement the quota transfer for the September 2021 time-
period is contrary to the public interest as such a delay would likely 
result in closure of the General category fishery when the baseline 
subquota for the September time-period is met and the need to re-open 
the fishery, with attendant costs to the fishery, including 
administrative costs and lost fishing opportunities. The delay would 
preclude the fishery from harvesting BFT that are available on the 
fishing grounds and that might otherwise become unavailable during a 
delay. This action does not raise conservation and management concerns. 
Transferring quota from the Reserve category to the General category 
does not affect the overall U.S. BFT quota, and the adjustment would 
have a minimal risk of exceeding the ICCAT-allocated quota. NMFS notes 
that the public had an opportunity to comment on the underlying 
rulemakings that established the U.S. BFT quota and the inseason 
adjustment criteria. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. 
For these reasons, there also is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to 
waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq.

    Dated: September 9, 2021.
Jennifer M. Wallace,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-19777 Filed 9-9-21; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P