Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Extension of Emergency Action To Temporarily Remove 2021 Seasonal Processing Limitations for Pacific Whiting Motherships and Catcher-Processors, 58810-58813 [2021-23165]

Download as PDF 58810 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 203 / Monday, October 25, 2021 / Rules and Regulations Final rule; announcement of effective date. ACTION: In this document, the Commission announces that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved, for a period of three years, the new information collection associated with the Commission’s Use of the 5.850–5.9259 GHz Band, First Report, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Order of Proposed Modification, FCC 20–164. This document is consistent with the Order, which stated that the Commission would publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of the rule. SUMMARY: The amendment to § 90.372 published at 86 FR 23281, May 3, 2021, is effective October 25, 2021. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jamie Coleman, Office of Engineering and Technology Bureau, at (202) 418– 0530, or email: Jamie.Coleman@fcc.gov. For additional information concerning the Paperwork Reduction Act information collection requirements, contact Nicole Ongele at (202) 418–2991 or nicole.ongele@fcc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This document announces that, on October 4, 2021, OMB approved, for a period of three years, the new information collection requirement relating to the DSRCS Notification Requirement rule contained in the Commission’s Use of the 5.850–5.9259 GHz Band, First Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Order of Proposed Modification, FCC 20–164 (86 FR 23281, May 3, 2021). The OMB Control Number is 3060–1293. If you have any comments on the burden estimates listed below, or how the Commission can improve the collections and reduce any burdens caused thereby, please contact Nicole Ongele, Federal Communications Commission, 45 L Street SW, Washington, DC 20554. Please include the OMB Control Number, 3060–1293, in your correspondence. The Commission will also accept your comments via email at PRA@fcc.gov. To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@ fcc.gov or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418–0530 (voice), (202) 418–0432 (TTY). jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 DATES: Synopsis As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507), the FCC is notifying the public that it VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Oct 22, 2021 Jkt 256001 received final OMB approval on October 4, 2021, for the information collection requirement contained in the Commission’s new rule in 47 CFR part 90. Under 5 CFR part 1320, an agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a current, valid OMB Control Number. No person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act that does not display a current, valid OMB Control Number. The OMB Control Number is 3060–1293. The foregoing is required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 10413, October 1, 1995, and 44 U.S.C. 3507. The total annual reporting burdens and costs for the respondents are as follows: OMB Control Number: 3060–1293. OMB Approval Date: October 4, 2021. OMB Expiration Date: October 31, 2024. Title: 47 CFR Section 90.372, Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) Notification Requirement. Form Number: N/A. Respondents: Business or other forprofit, Not-for-profit institutions, Federal Government, and State, Local or Tribal Government. Number of Respondents and Responses: 125 respondents; 125 responses. Estimated Time per Response: 2 hours. Frequency of Response: Recordkeeping requirement; on occasion and one-time reporting requirements. Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The statutory authority for this information collection is contained in sections 309 and 316 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 309 and 316. Total Annual Burden: 250 hours. Total Annual Cost: $62,500. Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: No information is requested that would require assurance of confidentiality. Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s). Needs and Uses: On November 20, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission released a First Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), and Order of Proposed Modification, Use of the 5.850–5.925 GHz Band, ET Docket No. 19–138. Among other things, the Commission repurposed 45 megahertz of the 5.850–5.925 GHz band (the 5.9 GHz band), specifically the spectrum from 5.850–5.895 GHz, to allow for the PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 expansion of unlicensed operations into the sub-band. At the same time, the Commission recognized that the 5.9 GHz band plays an important role in supporting intelligent transportation system (ITS) operations, and therefore continued to dedicate 30 megahertz of the 5.9 GHz band, specifically the subband from 5.895–5.925 GHz, for use by the ITS radio service. In addition, to promote the most efficient and effective use of the remaining ITS spectrum, the Commission will require ITS operations in the 5.895–5.925 GHz sub-band to transition from the current technology, Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC), to the emerging Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C–V2X)-based technology by the end of a transition period to be decided following action on the FNPRM (86 FR 23323, May 3, 2021). The provisions in 47 CFR 90.372 require DSRC licensees to notify the Commission that they have ceased operations in the 5.850–5.895 GHz subband. Federal Communications Commission. Katura Jackson, Federal Register Liaison Officer. [FR Doc. 2021–23148 Filed 10–22–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 211019–0211] RIN 0648–BK52 Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Extension of Emergency Action To Temporarily Remove 2021 Seasonal Processing Limitations for Pacific Whiting Motherships and CatcherProcessors National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; emergency action extended. AGENCY: This temporary rule extends emergency measures that allow at-sea Pacific whiting processing vessels to operate as both a mothership and a catcher-processor during the 2021 Pacific whiting fishery. These emergency measures were originally authorized until November 10, 2021. This temporary rule extends the emergency measures through December SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\25OCR1.SGM 25OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 203 / Monday, October 25, 2021 / Rules and Regulations jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 31, 2021. This action is necessary to ensure catcher vessels in the at-sea whiting sector are able to fully harvest sector allocations. Emergency measures under this extended temporary rule will allow catcher-processors to operate as motherships and replace mothership processing vessels that are unable to operate in the at-sea whiting sector during the ongoing COVID–19 pandemic and resulting high economic uncertainty in 2021. DATES: The expiration date of the emergency rule published May 14, 2021 (86 FR 26439), is extended to December 31, 2021. The amendments in this temporary rule are effective October 25, 2021. ADDRESSES: Electronic Access Background information and analytical documents are available at the NMFS West Coast Region website at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/ west-coast-groundfish.html and at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s website at https://www.pcouncil.org/ groundfish/fishery-management-plan/ groundfish-amendments-indevelopment/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynn Massey, phone: 562–436–2462, or email: lynn.massey@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The regulations implementing the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) prohibit processing vessels in the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery from operating as both a mothership (MS) and catcher processor (C/P) during the same calendar year. C/P vessels conduct both harvesting and processing catch atsea, while MS vessels solely process catch delivered by other vessels (referred to as catcher vessels). By design, some MS vessels are built solely to process catch delivered by other vessels while at-sea, whereas C/P vessels are capable of harvesting catch and receiving deliveries from catcher vessels. Because of this, some processing vessels are able to switch between the C/P and MS sectors, while other vessels are not. To help ensure market stability in the separate sectors, current regulations do not allow processing vessels to switch between the MS and C/P sectors in a single calendar year. Under existing restrictions, a decision to operate a processing vessel as a C/P in response to the ongoing pandemic would preclude the same vessel from operating as an MS for the remainder of the 2021 fishing year, and vice versa. Catcher vessels in the at-sea whiting sector rely on MS vessels to accept delivery of their VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Oct 22, 2021 Jkt 256001 catch and, as a result, the amount of whiting these vessels can harvest is limited by the availability of at-sea processing vessels in the MS sector. Losing an MS processing vessel would prevent catcher vessels from harvesting their 2021 Pacific whiting allocations. The remaining processing vessels participating in the MS sector would not possess the capacity to receive deliveries from all catcher vessels for the 2021 Pacific whiting season. In 2020, NMFS issued an emergency rule (85 FR 37027, June 19, 2020) to allow vessels to operate as an MS and a C/P in the same year in response to industry requests and a Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) recommendation. During the 2020 whiting season, several at-sea processing vessels experienced COVID– 19 outbreaks, forcing them to halt operations to prevent spreading infection to additional vessels and shorebased facilities. COVID–19 outbreaks and resulting shutdowns increased operational costs and caused foregone opportunities in the at-sea whiting fishery. In 2020, five MS permits were used to process MS allocations. The 2020 emergency action (85 FR 37027, June 19, 2020) provided temporary operational flexibility for the at-sea sector for 180 days and expired on December 16, 2020. However, it was unforeseen when the Council made its recommendation in 2020 how long the COVID–19 pandemic would last, how COVID–19 disease variants would emerge, and when vaccination efforts would be complete. During the March 2021 Council meeting, industry members from the MS sector submitted a letter to the Council requesting action to continue addressing this issue. In their letter, industry members estimated that the loss of one MS processing vessel would leave approximately 24 percent of the MS sector allocation unharvested. The Council Groundfish Advisory Panel (GAP) supported the industry statement and estimated economic impacts that would result from lost at-sea processing capacity. The Council’s Groundfish Management Team (GMT) provided additional analysis showing that compared to 2016–2019 fishing years, the proportion of whiting harvested in 2020 decreased by 13 percent in the MS sector and 2 percent in the C/P sector. The GMT’s analysis showed that these decreases likely reflected COVID–19 impacts, including a lack of processing vessels available to catcher vessels due to attempts to minimize the spread of COVID–19. Due to the continued risk to at-sea whiting vessels and loss of processing capacity should a COVID–19 PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 58811 outbreak occur onboard a processing vessel, the Council GAP and GMT advisory bodies recommended the Council take emergency action to allow available vessels to operate as both types of processing vessels for the 2021 fishing year to mitigate potential economic hardship. On March 9, 2021, the Council voted to request that NMFS initiate an emergency action to temporarily allow any eligible MS and C/P to operate as both types of processing vessel during the 2021 Pacific whiting season. This action was not an extension of the 2020 emergency rule (85 FR 37027, June 19, 2020), but rather a new emergency rule for the 2021 Pacific whiting fishing year. Accordingly, on May 14, 2021, NMFS published a temporary emergency rule (86 FR 26439) granting the Council’s recommendation. NMFS held a public comment period on the May 2021 Emergency rule (86 FR 26439) for 30 days from May 14, 2021, to June 14, 2021, and received no comments. Under the May 2021 temporary emergency rule, vessels were not required to declare which sector they would operate in for the year at the beginning of the season. This temporary emergency action also allowed at-sea Pacific whiting processing vessels to switch operations for 180 days after publication (i.e., until November 10, 2021). Because there is still continual risk to at-sea whiting vessels and loss of processing capacity due to the ongoing COVID–19 pandemic, NMFS is extending the emergency measures in the May 2021 emergency rule until December 31, 2021, when the 2021 Pacific whiting fishery closes. This extension will allow the fishery to fully utilize the flexibilities created through the emergency rule and mitigate additional economic harm from the COVID–19 pandemic. Justification for Emergency Action Because there is still continual risk to at-sea whiting vessels and loss of processing capacity due to the ongoing COVID–19 pandemic, NMFS is now extending these emergency measures as authorized under section 305(c)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). For additional explanation on the rationale and effects of this emergency rule extension, see the original emergency rule published on May 14, 2021 (86 FR 26439). Extended Emergency Measures NMFS is extending the original emergency regulations in the May 14, 2021 rule (86 FR 26439). This emergency action extension removes E:\FR\FM\25OCR1.SGM 25OCR1 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 58812 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 203 / Monday, October 25, 2021 / Rules and Regulations restrictions prohibiting an at-sea Pacific whiting processing vessel from operating as an MS or C/P in the same calendar year for the remainder of the 2021 Pacific whiting fishing year, effective October 25, 2021. This action temporarily (until December 31, 2021) allows a processing vessel to operate as both an MS and C/P in the same calendar year, but not on the same trip. This action does not modify or change any other aspects of the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery. Owners of processing vessels that intend to operate as both an MS and a C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting season must follow this procedure: (1) Submit a request to register for both processing permits. The vessel may be registered under both an MS permit and a C/P endorsed permit simultaneously for the duration of the emergency rule. The owner of a processing vessel currently registered under a C/P endorsed permit may also operate as an MS by submitting a request to NMFS Permits to register the processing vessel under a valid MS permit per regulations in 50 CFR 660.25(b). The owner of a processing vessel currently registered under an MS permit may also operate as a C/P by submitting a request to NMFS Permits to register the processing vessel under a valid C/P endorsed permit per regulations in 50 CFR 660.25(b). (2) Submit a notification of a material change to coop agreement within 7 days. To operate in the MS fishery (i.e., receive deliveries of catch from MS catcher vessel and process MS sector allocations at-sea) the vessel must be included in the MS coop agreement. To operate in the C/P fishery (i.e., catch and process C/P sector allocations at-sea) the vessel must be included in the C/P coop agreement. Including a new vessel in either the MS or C/P coop agreement constitutes a material change to the coop agreement. Within 7 calendar days of the new processing vessel operating for the first time in either the 2021 MS coop fishery or the 2021 C/P coop fishery, the respective coop manager must notify NMFS in writing of such change to the coop agreement as required in regulations at 50 CFR 660.150(d)(1)(iii)(B)(4) and 50 CFR 660.160(d)(1)(iii)(B)(4). (3) Submit a revised coop agreement within 30 days of material change to the coop agreement. Within 30 days of a new vessel participating in a coop fishery, the MS or C/P coop manager must submit a revised coop agreement to NMFS that lists all vessels and/or processing vessels operating in the respective coop and includes the new processing vessel, along with a letter VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Oct 22, 2021 Jkt 256001 describing the change to the coop agreement, as required in regulations at 50 CFR 660.150(d)(1)(iii)(B)(4) and 50 CFR 660.160(d)(1)(iii)(B)(4). (4) Change vessel declaration before each fishing trip. For each trip, the vessel must update its vessel monitoring system (VMS) declaration to reflect its activity for that trip prior to departure as specified in existing groundfish regulations at 50 CFR 660.13(d)(4)(iv)(A). The declaration is binding for the duration of the trip and may not be changed until completion of the trip. A processing vessel must submit one of the following declarations: (a) Limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting catcher/processor sector; or (b) Limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting mothership sector (mothership). (5) Economic Data Collection (EDC) Program. A separate EDC form is required for the owner, lessee, charterer of a mothership vessel registered to an MS permit as well as owner, lessee, charterer of a catcher processor vessel registered to a C/P-endorsed limited entry permit. If a vessel holds both types of permits in one calendar year, two EDC forms must be submitted as specified at 50 CFR 660.114. (6) Expiration of Emergency Measures. Vessels that have operated as both an MS and C/P in 2021 would be required to cease operations after December 31, 2021. Classification NMFS is issuing an extension of this emergency rule pursuant to section 305(3)(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) that it is unnecessary, impracticable, and contrary to the public interest to provide for any additional prior notice and opportunity for the public to comment. As more fully explained above, the reasons justifying promulgation of this rule on an emergency basis, coupled with the fact that the public has had the opportunity to comment on the original emergency rule, make solicitation of additional comment unnecessary, impractical and contrary to the public interest. This action is needed immediately to enable necessary operational flexibility to harvest the United States’ allocation of whiting. NMFS is implementing this extension of an emergency action to continue to reduce the impact of potential health issues caused by COVID–19 outbreaks that may impact harvesting and processing. For the reasons stated above, the AA also finds PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effective date of this temporary rule under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This action is being taken pursuant to the emergency provision of MagnusonStevens Act and is exempt from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review. This temporary rule references a collection-of-information requirement that is subject to review and approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act. This requirement was approved by OMB under Control Number 0648–0573. This temporary rule does not modify this collection-of-information requirement. The Regulatory Flexibility Act does not apply to this emergency rule because prior notice and opportunity for public comment is not required. Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements The extension of this emergency action includes record keeping and reporting requirements previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 0648–0573: Expanded Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Requirements for the Pacific Groundfish Fishery. Prior to leaving port, an at-sea Pacific whiting processing vessel must declare whether it will be operating in the MS sector or the C/P sector for each trip. Vessels in fisheries off West Coast states must declare through VMS the gear type and sector in which they will participate, including the limited entry midwater trawl and Pacific whiting MS and C/P sectors, as specified in existing groundfish regulations at 50 CFR 660.13(d)(4)(iv)(A). The number of declaration reports the vessel operator is required to submit to NMFS would not change under this action. In addition, this action does not change existing recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Therefore, no entity would be subject to new reporting requirements under this emergency action. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries. Dated: October 19, 2021. Samuel D. Rauch, III Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows: E:\FR\FM\25OCR1.SGM 25OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 203 / Monday, October 25, 2021 / Rules and Regulations § 660.150 PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. 2. In § 660.25, revise paragraph (b)(4)(vii)(D) to read as follows: ■ § 660.25 Permits. * * * * * (b) * * * (4) * * * (vii) * * * (D) Emergency rule extending season flexibility on at-sea processing restrictions. Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, vessels may be registered to both a limited entry MS permit and limited entry trawl permit with a C/P endorsement during the same calendar year. Vessels registered to both an MS permit and a C/P endorsed permit may operate in both the at-sea MS sector and C/P sector during the same calendar year, but not on the same trip. Prior to leaving port, a vessel registered under both an MS permit and a C/P endorsed permit must declare through VMS the sector in which it will participate for the duration of the trip, as specified at § 660.13(d)(4)(iv)(A). * * * * * ■ 3. In § 660.112, revise paragraphs (d)(3)(i) and (e)(3)(i) to read as follows: § 660.112 Trawl fishery—prohibitions. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 * * * * * (d) * * * (3) * * * (i) Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, a vessel that was used to fish in the C/P fishery may be used to receive and process catch as mothership in the same calendar year, but not on the same fishing trip. * * * * * (e) * * * (3) * * * (i) Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, catcherprocessor vessels and motherships are exempt from the prohibition in this paragraph (e)(3). * * * * * ■ 4. In § 660.150, revise paragraphs (b)(1)(i)(D), (b)(2)(ii)(B)(1), (f)(1)(iii), and (f)(2)(i)(A) to read as follows: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Oct 22, 2021 Jkt 256001 Mothership (MS) Coop Program. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * (i) * * * (D) Under emergency measures effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, a vessel may operate as both an MS and a C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary season, but not on the same fishing trip. * * * * * (2) * * * (ii) * * * (B) * * * (1) Under emergency measures effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, a vessel may operate as both an MS and C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary season, but not on the same fishing trip. A vessel registered in the same calendar year to operate under both a limited entry MS permit and limited entry permit with a C/P endorsement must declare prior to leaving port the sector in which it will participate for the duration of the trip, as per declaration requirements specified at § 660.13(d)(4)(iv)(A). * * * * * (f) * * * (1) * * * (iii) Emergency rule extending seasonal flexibility on at-sea processor restrictions. Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, vessels may operate as both an MS and a C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary season, but not on the same fishing trip. (2) * * * (i) * * * (A) Emergency rule extending seasonal flexibility on at-sea processing restrictions. Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, a vessel registered to an MS permit is exempt from the declaration in this paragraph (f)(2)(i) and may also operate as a C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary season, even if the permit owner previously declared to operate solely as a mothership. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 660.160, revise paragraphs (b)(1)(i)(D), (b)(1)(ii)(A)(1), (e)(1)(iii)(A), and (e)(2)(i)(A) to read as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 58813 § 660.160 Catcher/processor (C/P) Coop Program. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * (i) * * * (D) Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, a vessel may operate as both an MS and a C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary fishing season, but not on the same fishing trip. (ii) * * * (A) * * * (1) Under emergency measures effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, a vessel may operate as both a mothership and C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary season, but not on the same fishing trip. A vessel registered in the same calendar year to operate under both a limited entry MS permit and limited entry permit with a C/P endorsement must declare prior to leaving port the sector in which it will participate for the duration of the trip, as per declaration requirements specified at § 660.13(d)(4)(iv)(A). * * * * * (e) * * * (1) * * * (iii) * * * (A) Emergency rule extending seasonal flexibility on at-sea processor restrictions. Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, vessels may operate as both an MS and a C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary season, but not on the same fishing trip. * * * * * (2) * * * (i) * * * (A) Emergency rule extending seasonal flexibility on at-sea processing restrictions. Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, a vessel registered to a C/P endorsed permit is exempt from the declaration in this paragraph (e)(2)(i) and may also operate as an MS during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary season, even if the permit owner previously declared to operate solely as a C/P. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2021–23165 Filed 10–22–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\25OCR1.SGM 25OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 203 (Monday, October 25, 2021)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 58810-58813]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-23165]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 211019-0211]
RIN 0648-BK52


Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish 
Fishery; Extension of Emergency Action To Temporarily Remove 2021 
Seasonal Processing Limitations for Pacific Whiting Motherships and 
Catcher-Processors

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; emergency action extended.

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SUMMARY: This temporary rule extends emergency measures that allow at-
sea Pacific whiting processing vessels to operate as both a mothership 
and a catcher-processor during the 2021 Pacific whiting fishery. These 
emergency measures were originally authorized until November 10, 2021. 
This temporary rule extends the emergency measures through December

[[Page 58811]]

31, 2021. This action is necessary to ensure catcher vessels in the at-
sea whiting sector are able to fully harvest sector allocations. 
Emergency measures under this extended temporary rule will allow 
catcher-processors to operate as motherships and replace mothership 
processing vessels that are unable to operate in the at-sea whiting 
sector during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting high economic 
uncertainty in 2021.

DATES: The expiration date of the emergency rule published May 14, 2021 
(86 FR 26439), is extended to December 31, 2021. The amendments in this 
temporary rule are effective October 25, 2021.

ADDRESSES: 

Electronic Access

    Background information and analytical documents are available at 
the NMFS West Coast Region website at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/west-coast-groundfish.html and at the Pacific Fishery 
Management Council's website at https://www.pcouncil.org/groundfish/fishery-management-plan/groundfish-amendments-in-development/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynn Massey, phone: 562-436-2462, or 
email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The regulations implementing the Pacific 
Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) prohibit processing 
vessels in the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery from operating as both a 
mothership (MS) and catcher processor (C/P) during the same calendar 
year. C/P vessels conduct both harvesting and processing catch at-sea, 
while MS vessels solely process catch delivered by other vessels 
(referred to as catcher vessels). By design, some MS vessels are built 
solely to process catch delivered by other vessels while at-sea, 
whereas C/P vessels are capable of harvesting catch and receiving 
deliveries from catcher vessels. Because of this, some processing 
vessels are able to switch between the C/P and MS sectors, while other 
vessels are not. To help ensure market stability in the separate 
sectors, current regulations do not allow processing vessels to switch 
between the MS and C/P sectors in a single calendar year. Under 
existing restrictions, a decision to operate a processing vessel as a 
C/P in response to the ongoing pandemic would preclude the same vessel 
from operating as an MS for the remainder of the 2021 fishing year, and 
vice versa. Catcher vessels in the at-sea whiting sector rely on MS 
vessels to accept delivery of their catch and, as a result, the amount 
of whiting these vessels can harvest is limited by the availability of 
at-sea processing vessels in the MS sector. Losing an MS processing 
vessel would prevent catcher vessels from harvesting their 2021 Pacific 
whiting allocations. The remaining processing vessels participating in 
the MS sector would not possess the capacity to receive deliveries from 
all catcher vessels for the 2021 Pacific whiting season.
    In 2020, NMFS issued an emergency rule (85 FR 37027, June 19, 2020) 
to allow vessels to operate as an MS and a C/P in the same year in 
response to industry requests and a Pacific Fishery Management Council 
(Council) recommendation. During the 2020 whiting season, several at-
sea processing vessels experienced COVID-19 outbreaks, forcing them to 
halt operations to prevent spreading infection to additional vessels 
and shorebased facilities. COVID-19 outbreaks and resulting shutdowns 
increased operational costs and caused foregone opportunities in the 
at-sea whiting fishery. In 2020, five MS permits were used to process 
MS allocations. The 2020 emergency action (85 FR 37027, June 19, 2020) 
provided temporary operational flexibility for the at-sea sector for 
180 days and expired on December 16, 2020. However, it was unforeseen 
when the Council made its recommendation in 2020 how long the COVID-19 
pandemic would last, how COVID-19 disease variants would emerge, and 
when vaccination efforts would be complete.
    During the March 2021 Council meeting, industry members from the MS 
sector submitted a letter to the Council requesting action to continue 
addressing this issue. In their letter, industry members estimated that 
the loss of one MS processing vessel would leave approximately 24 
percent of the MS sector allocation unharvested. The Council Groundfish 
Advisory Panel (GAP) supported the industry statement and estimated 
economic impacts that would result from lost at-sea processing 
capacity. The Council's Groundfish Management Team (GMT) provided 
additional analysis showing that compared to 2016-2019 fishing years, 
the proportion of whiting harvested in 2020 decreased by 13 percent in 
the MS sector and 2 percent in the C/P sector. The GMT's analysis 
showed that these decreases likely reflected COVID-19 impacts, 
including a lack of processing vessels available to catcher vessels due 
to attempts to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Due to the continued 
risk to at-sea whiting vessels and loss of processing capacity should a 
COVID-19 outbreak occur onboard a processing vessel, the Council GAP 
and GMT advisory bodies recommended the Council take emergency action 
to allow available vessels to operate as both types of processing 
vessels for the 2021 fishing year to mitigate potential economic 
hardship.
    On March 9, 2021, the Council voted to request that NMFS initiate 
an emergency action to temporarily allow any eligible MS and C/P to 
operate as both types of processing vessel during the 2021 Pacific 
whiting season. This action was not an extension of the 2020 emergency 
rule (85 FR 37027, June 19, 2020), but rather a new emergency rule for 
the 2021 Pacific whiting fishing year. Accordingly, on May 14, 2021, 
NMFS published a temporary emergency rule (86 FR 26439) granting the 
Council's recommendation. NMFS held a public comment period on the May 
2021 Emergency rule (86 FR 26439) for 30 days from May 14, 2021, to 
June 14, 2021, and received no comments. Under the May 2021 temporary 
emergency rule, vessels were not required to declare which sector they 
would operate in for the year at the beginning of the season. This 
temporary emergency action also allowed at-sea Pacific whiting 
processing vessels to switch operations for 180 days after publication 
(i.e., until November 10, 2021). Because there is still continual risk 
to at-sea whiting vessels and loss of processing capacity due to the 
ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, NMFS is extending the emergency measures in 
the May 2021 emergency rule until December 31, 2021, when the 2021 
Pacific whiting fishery closes. This extension will allow the fishery 
to fully utilize the flexibilities created through the emergency rule 
and mitigate additional economic harm from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Justification for Emergency Action

    Because there is still continual risk to at-sea whiting vessels and 
loss of processing capacity due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, NMFS 
is now extending these emergency measures as authorized under section 
305(c)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). For additional explanation on the rationale 
and effects of this emergency rule extension, see the original 
emergency rule published on May 14, 2021 (86 FR 26439).

Extended Emergency Measures

    NMFS is extending the original emergency regulations in the May 14, 
2021 rule (86 FR 26439). This emergency action extension removes

[[Page 58812]]

restrictions prohibiting an at-sea Pacific whiting processing vessel 
from operating as an MS or C/P in the same calendar year for the 
remainder of the 2021 Pacific whiting fishing year, effective October 
25, 2021. This action temporarily (until December 31, 2021) allows a 
processing vessel to operate as both an MS and C/P in the same calendar 
year, but not on the same trip. This action does not modify or change 
any other aspects of the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery. Owners of 
processing vessels that intend to operate as both an MS and a C/P 
during the 2021 Pacific whiting season must follow this procedure:
    (1) Submit a request to register for both processing permits. The 
vessel may be registered under both an MS permit and a C/P endorsed 
permit simultaneously for the duration of the emergency rule. The owner 
of a processing vessel currently registered under a C/P endorsed permit 
may also operate as an MS by submitting a request to NMFS Permits to 
register the processing vessel under a valid MS permit per regulations 
in 50 CFR 660.25(b). The owner of a processing vessel currently 
registered under an MS permit may also operate as a C/P by submitting a 
request to NMFS Permits to register the processing vessel under a valid 
C/P endorsed permit per regulations in 50 CFR 660.25(b).
    (2) Submit a notification of a material change to coop agreement 
within 7 days. To operate in the MS fishery (i.e., receive deliveries 
of catch from MS catcher vessel and process MS sector allocations at-
sea) the vessel must be included in the MS coop agreement. To operate 
in the C/P fishery (i.e., catch and process C/P sector allocations at-
sea) the vessel must be included in the C/P coop agreement. Including a 
new vessel in either the MS or C/P coop agreement constitutes a 
material change to the coop agreement. Within 7 calendar days of the 
new processing vessel operating for the first time in either the 2021 
MS coop fishery or the 2021 C/P coop fishery, the respective coop 
manager must notify NMFS in writing of such change to the coop 
agreement as required in regulations at 50 CFR 660.150(d)(1)(iii)(B)(4) 
and 50 CFR 660.160(d)(1)(iii)(B)(4).
    (3) Submit a revised coop agreement within 30 days of material 
change to the coop agreement. Within 30 days of a new vessel 
participating in a coop fishery, the MS or C/P coop manager must submit 
a revised coop agreement to NMFS that lists all vessels and/or 
processing vessels operating in the respective coop and includes the 
new processing vessel, along with a letter describing the change to the 
coop agreement, as required in regulations at 50 CFR 
660.150(d)(1)(iii)(B)(4) and 50 CFR 660.160(d)(1)(iii)(B)(4).
    (4) Change vessel declaration before each fishing trip. For each 
trip, the vessel must update its vessel monitoring system (VMS) 
declaration to reflect its activity for that trip prior to departure as 
specified in existing groundfish regulations at 50 CFR 
660.13(d)(4)(iv)(A). The declaration is binding for the duration of the 
trip and may not be changed until completion of the trip. A processing 
vessel must submit one of the following declarations: (a) Limited entry 
midwater trawl, Pacific whiting catcher/processor sector; or (b) 
Limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting mothership sector 
(mothership).
    (5) Economic Data Collection (EDC) Program. A separate EDC form is 
required for the owner, lessee, charterer of a mothership vessel 
registered to an MS permit as well as owner, lessee, charterer of a 
catcher processor vessel registered to a C/P-endorsed limited entry 
permit. If a vessel holds both types of permits in one calendar year, 
two EDC forms must be submitted as specified at 50 CFR 660.114.
    (6) Expiration of Emergency Measures. Vessels that have operated as 
both an MS and C/P in 2021 would be required to cease operations after 
December 31, 2021.

Classification

    NMFS is issuing an extension of this emergency rule pursuant to 
section 305(3)(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Assistant 
Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) that it is 
unnecessary, impracticable, and contrary to the public interest to 
provide for any additional prior notice and opportunity for the public 
to comment. As more fully explained above, the reasons justifying 
promulgation of this rule on an emergency basis, coupled with the fact 
that the public has had the opportunity to comment on the original 
emergency rule, make solicitation of additional comment unnecessary, 
impractical and contrary to the public interest. This action is needed 
immediately to enable necessary operational flexibility to harvest the 
United States' allocation of whiting. NMFS is implementing this 
extension of an emergency action to continue to reduce the impact of 
potential health issues caused by COVID-19 outbreaks that may impact 
harvesting and processing. For the reasons stated above, the AA also 
finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effective date of this 
temporary rule under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).
    This action is being taken pursuant to the emergency provision of 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and is exempt from Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) review.
    This temporary rule references a collection-of-information 
requirement that is subject to review and approval by OMB under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act. This requirement was approved by OMB under 
Control Number 0648-0573. This temporary rule does not modify this 
collection-of-information requirement. The Regulatory Flexibility Act 
does not apply to this emergency rule because prior notice and 
opportunity for public comment is not required.

Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

    The extension of this emergency action includes record keeping and 
reporting requirements previously approved by the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 0648-0573: Expanded Vessel 
Monitoring System (VMS) Requirements for the Pacific Groundfish 
Fishery. Prior to leaving port, an at-sea Pacific whiting processing 
vessel must declare whether it will be operating in the MS sector or 
the C/P sector for each trip. Vessels in fisheries off West Coast 
states must declare through VMS the gear type and sector in which they 
will participate, including the limited entry midwater trawl and 
Pacific whiting MS and C/P sectors, as specified in existing groundfish 
regulations at 50 CFR 660.13(d)(4)(iv)(A). The number of declaration 
reports the vessel operator is required to submit to NMFS would not 
change under this action. In addition, this action does not change 
existing recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Therefore, no entity 
would be subject to new reporting requirements under this emergency 
action.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries.

    Dated: October 19, 2021.
Samuel D. Rauch, III
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended 
as follows:

[[Page 58813]]

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 
U.S.C. 7001 et seq.


0
2. In Sec.  660.25, revise paragraph (b)(4)(vii)(D) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.25   Permits.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (vii) * * *
    (D) Emergency rule extending season flexibility on at-sea 
processing restrictions. Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 
2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, vessels may be 
registered to both a limited entry MS permit and limited entry trawl 
permit with a C/P endorsement during the same calendar year. Vessels 
registered to both an MS permit and a C/P endorsed permit may operate 
in both the at-sea MS sector and C/P sector during the same calendar 
year, but not on the same trip. Prior to leaving port, a vessel 
registered under both an MS permit and a C/P endorsed permit must 
declare through VMS the sector in which it will participate for the 
duration of the trip, as specified at Sec.  660.13(d)(4)(iv)(A).
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  660.112, revise paragraphs (d)(3)(i) and (e)(3)(i) to read 
as follows:


Sec.  660.112   Trawl fishery--prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, 
notwithstanding any other section of this part, a vessel that was used 
to fish in the C/P fishery may be used to receive and process catch as 
mothership in the same calendar year, but not on the same fishing trip.
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, 
notwithstanding any other section of this part, catcher-processor 
vessels and motherships are exempt from the prohibition in this 
paragraph (e)(3).
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  660.150, revise paragraphs (b)(1)(i)(D), (b)(2)(ii)(B)(1), 
(f)(1)(iii), and (f)(2)(i)(A) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.150  Mothership (MS) Coop Program.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (D) Under emergency measures effective October 25, 2021 until 
December 31, 2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, a 
vessel may operate as both an MS and a C/P during the 2021 Pacific 
whiting primary season, but not on the same fishing trip.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (B) * * *
    (1) Under emergency measures effective October 25, 2021 until 
December 31, 2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, a 
vessel may operate as both an MS and C/P during the 2021 Pacific 
whiting primary season, but not on the same fishing trip. A vessel 
registered in the same calendar year to operate under both a limited 
entry MS permit and limited entry permit with a C/P endorsement must 
declare prior to leaving port the sector in which it will participate 
for the duration of the trip, as per declaration requirements specified 
at Sec.  660.13(d)(4)(iv)(A).
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) Emergency rule extending seasonal flexibility on at-sea 
processor restrictions. Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 
2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, vessels may 
operate as both an MS and a C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary 
season, but not on the same fishing trip.
    (2) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (A) Emergency rule extending seasonal flexibility on at-sea 
processing restrictions. Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 
2021, a vessel registered to an MS permit is exempt from the 
declaration in this paragraph (f)(2)(i) and may also operate as a C/P 
during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary season, even if the permit 
owner previously declared to operate solely as a mothership.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  660.160, revise paragraphs (b)(1)(i)(D), (b)(1)(ii)(A)(1), 
(e)(1)(iii)(A), and (e)(2)(i)(A) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.160  Catcher/processor (C/P) Coop Program.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (D) Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 2021, 
notwithstanding any other section of this part, a vessel may operate as 
both an MS and a C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary fishing 
season, but not on the same fishing trip.
    (ii) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (1) Under emergency measures effective October 25, 2021 until 
December 31, 2021, a vessel may operate as both a mothership and C/P 
during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary season, but not on the same 
fishing trip. A vessel registered in the same calendar year to operate 
under both a limited entry MS permit and limited entry permit with a C/
P endorsement must declare prior to leaving port the sector in which it 
will participate for the duration of the trip, as per declaration 
requirements specified at Sec.  660.13(d)(4)(iv)(A).
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (A) Emergency rule extending seasonal flexibility on at-sea 
processor restrictions. Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 
2021, notwithstanding any other section of this part, vessels may 
operate as both an MS and a C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary 
season, but not on the same fishing trip.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (A) Emergency rule extending seasonal flexibility on at-sea 
processing restrictions. Effective October 25, 2021 until December 31, 
2021, a vessel registered to a C/P endorsed permit is exempt from the 
declaration in this paragraph (e)(2)(i) and may also operate as an MS 
during the 2021 Pacific whiting primary season, even if the permit 
owner previously declared to operate solely as a C/P.
* * * * *

[FR Doc. 2021-23165 Filed 10-22-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P