Pacific Island Fisheries; Rebuilding Plan for Guam Bottomfish, 67426-67429 [2021-25737]

Download as PDF jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 67426 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 225 / Friday, November 26, 2021 / Proposed Rules In addition, since the opening of the public comment period on the 2019 CRA, the Agency has received 12 sets of public comments regarding the application and the recertification process in general. In addition to soliciting written public comments, the EPA held a virtual, informal public meeting in August 2021 to discuss stakeholders’ concerns and issues related to recertification. All submitted public comments can also be referenced via https://www.regulations.gov; Docket ID: EPA–HQ–OAR–2019–5304. In a letter dated November 17, 2021, from the EPA’s Director of the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air to the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Environmental Management, Department of Energy, the Agency notified the DOE that the CRA for the WIPP is complete. This letter can be referenced via https:// www.regulations.gov; Docket ID: EPA– HQ–OAR–2019–5304. This determination is solely an administrative measure and does not reflect any conclusion regarding the WIPP’s continued compliance with the disposal regulations. The EPA will now undertake a full technical evaluation of the complete 2019 CRA to determine whether the WIPP continues to comply with the Disposal Regulations. The Agency will consider relevant public comments and other information relevant to the WIPP’s compliance. The Agency is most interested in whether new or changed information has been appropriately incorporated into the performance assessment calculations for the WIPP and whether the potential long-term effects of changes are properly characterized. If the Agency approves the CRA, it will then serve as the baseline for the next recertification. As required by the WIPP LWA, the EPA will make a final recertification decision within six months of issuing the completeness determination letter to the Secretary of Energy. In accordance with the Compliance Certification Criteria, the Agency will seek to publish notice of EPA’s recertification decision. 40 CFR 194.64. Jonathan D. Edwards, Director, Office of Radiation and Indoor Air. [FR Doc. 2021–25590 Filed 11–24–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Nov 24, 2021 Jkt 256001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 665 [Docket No. 211119–0240] RIN 0648–BK66 Pacific Island Fisheries; Rebuilding Plan for Guam Bottomfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to implement a rebuilding plan that includes annual catch limits (ACL) and accountability measures (AM) for the overfished bottomfish stock complex in Guam. This action is necessary to rebuild the overfished stock consistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). DATES: NMFS must receive comments by January 10, 2022. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2021–0104, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov and enter NOAA– NMFS–2021–0104 in the Search box, click the ‘‘Comment’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the public record, and NMFS will generally post them for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), 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). The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared Amendment 6 to the Fishery SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Ecosystem Plan for the Mariana Archipelago (FEP), which includes a draft environmental assessment (EA) and Regulatory Impact Review. Copies of Amendment 6 and other supporting documents are available at www.regulations.gov, or from the Council, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808–522–8220, www.wpcouncil.org. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Taylor, NMFS PIR Sustainable Fisheries, 808–725–5182. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Guam bottomfish fishery under the FEP and implementing regulations. The Guam fishery harvests 11 species of emperors, snappers, groupers, and jacks. There are more than 300 participants in the fishery. Most (73.6 percent) of the bottomfish habitat is in territorial waters (generally from the shoreline to 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) offshore), with the rest in Federal waters (i.e., the U.S Exclusive Economic Zone) around offshore banks to the northeast and southwest of Guam. Fishing is mostly from vessels less than 25 ft (7.6 m) in length close to shore, targeting shallowwater species for recreational, subsistence, and small-scale commercial purposes. A few larger vessels make trips to offshore banks to harvest deepwater species primarily for commercial purposes. There is no mandatory reporting catch data collection system in Guam. The Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources (DAWR) collects fishery catch information from fishermen through voluntary creel surveys, and commercial sales data from the commercial receipt book program. NMFS requires large vessels (>50 ft, 15.2 m) that fish in Federal waters to hold a Federal permit and report their catch; there are no current Federal permits holders. The NOAA Office of Law Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard are responsible for the enforcement of regulations in Federal waters and Guam’s Department of Agriculture Law Enforcement Section is responsible for the enforcement of regulations in territorial waters. Since 2001, the fishery has landed between 11,711 (5,312 kg) and 54,062 lb (24,522 kg) annually. The most recent 3year average (2018–2020) Guam bottomfish catch (from both Federal and territorial waters) was 27,306 lb (12,386 kg), and the fishery landed 18,933 lb (8,588 kg) in 2020. Although bottomfish have accounted for only 10–15 percent of Guam’s boat-based fish harvest, bottomfish hold fundamental dietary and cultural importance for the people of Guam. Federal waters around Guam E:\FR\FM\26NOP1.SGM 26NOP1 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 225 / Friday, November 26, 2021 / Proposed Rules remain important for the harvest of deepwater snappers at offshore banks to provide locally sourced bottomfish. On February 10, 2020, NMFS notified the Council that the Guam bottomfish stock complex was overfished, but not subject to overfishing (85 FR 26940, May 6, 2020). Bottomfish are considered to be overfished when the stock complex’s biomass (B) declines below the level necessary to produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) on a continuing basis. Consistent with section 304(e) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and implementing regulations at 50 CFR 600.310(j), the Council must prepare, and NMFS must implement a rebuilding plan within two years of the notification. The rebuilding plan must specify the timeframe for rebuilding the Guam bottomfish stock complex’s biomass to BMSY, which is the long-term average size of the stock complex that would be achieved by fishing at maximum sustainable yield. The rebuilding timeframe must be as short as possible, taking into account the status and biology of the overfished stock, the needs of fishing communities, and the interaction of the overfished stock of fish within the marine ecosystem and cannot exceed 10 years, except in cases where the biology of the stock of fish, other environmental conditions, or management measures under an international agreement in which the United States participates dictate otherwise. The rebuilding must also have at least a 50 percent probability of attaining the Bmsy, where such probabilities can be calculated. If approved, Amendment 6 would implement a rebuilding plan for the Guam bottomfish stock complex that consists of an ACL and two AMs. We would set the ACL at 31,000 lb (14,061 kg) starting in 2022. Because the complex exists in both territorial and Federal waters around Guam, we are obligated to manage the stock throughout its range and would count harvests from territorial and Federal waters toward the ACL. However, existing data collection programs do not differentiate catch from territorial versus Federal waters. As an in-season AM, if NMFS projects that the fishery will reach the ACL in any year, then we would close the fishery in Federal waters for the remainder of that year. Because Guam does not currently have regulations in place to implement a complementary ACL and in-season AM in territorial waters, as an additional AM, if subsequent analyses indicate that the fishery exceeded the ACL during a year, we would close the fishery in Federal waters until NMFS and the Territory of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Nov 24, 2021 Jkt 256001 Guam implement a coordinated management approach and implement regulations to ensure that the catch in both Federal and territorial waters is maintained at levels that allow the stock to rebuild to Bmsy. The rebuilding plan would remain in place until NMFS determines that the stock complex is rebuilt, which is expected to take nine years. This rebuilding plan was selected because it allows for the least disruption to the fishing community and minimizes negative socio-economic impacts while still rebuilding the stock complex within the 10-year period required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS and the Council would review the rebuilding plan routinely every two years and modify it, as necessary, per section 304(e)(7) of the MagnusonStevens Act. NMFS must receive comments on this proposed rule by the date provided in the DATES section. NMFS is also soliciting comments on proposed Amendment 6, as stated in the Notice of Availability (NOA) published on November 15, 2021 (86 FR 62982). NMFS must receive comments on the NOA by January 14, 2022. NMFS may not consider any comments not postmarked or otherwise transmitted by that date. NMFS will consider comments on the NOA and this proposed rule in our decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve Amendment 6. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed action is consistent with the FEP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for it are contained in the preamble to this proposed rule. The Guam bottomfish fishery consists of the shallow water component and deepwater component, with an estimated 300 or more participants. The shallow water component is likely larger than the deepwater component in terms of catch and effort due to the lower expense and ease of fishing close PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 67427 to shore. Smaller fishing vessels (<25 ft, 7.6 m) comprise most of the Guam bottomfish fishing fleet, and tend to target shallow water bottomfish species for recreational, subsistence, and smallscale commercial purposes. The few relatively large vessels in the fishery are more likely to target the deepwater complex at offshore banks and primarily fish for commercial reasons, although small non-commercial boats do fish offshore. Fishermen sometimes combine bottomfish fishing with other methods of harvest such as trolling, spearing and jigging, and many commercial fishermen supplement their bottomfish fishing effort with trolling for pelagic fish. Guam’s bottomfish fishery is highly seasonal with fishing effort higher during the summer months. Although bottomfish fishing has only accounted for 10 to 15 percent of Guam’s long-term boat-based fisheries harvest, bottomfish hold fundamental dietary and cultural importance for the people of Guam. Fishing grounds in Federal waters around Guam remain important for the harvest of deepwater snappers at offshore banks to provide locally sourced bottomfish the island’s inhabitants, and the extensive community networks for sharing locally caught fish suggest that it is likely that the social benefits of fishing are widely shared by many of Guam’s long-term residents. Bottomfish catch ranged from 11,711 lb (5,312 kg) to 31,760 lb (14,406 kg) between 2012 and 2020, and the catch over the last three years averaged 27,306 lb (12,386 kg). The Guam bottomfish fishery has been managed with ACL and AMs since 2012 and although catch from both territorial waters and Federal waters count toward the ACL, catch reports do not specify whether the bottomfish catch came from territorial or Federal waters. Bottomfish catches in the fishery has surpassed 31,000 lb (14,061 kg) only twice in the past 10 years: 31,226 lb (14,164 kg) in 2018 and 31,760 lb (14,406 kg) in 2019. We do not expect the fishery to reach the proposed ACL, but it is possible, and we anticipate a 30 percent probability of a closure in Federal waters. If the fishery exceeds the ACL, the fishery will be subject to the higher performance standard for subsequent years, which would close the bottomfish fishery in Federal waters until a coordinated management approach is developed to ensure both Federal and territorial waters can be maintained at levels that allow the stock to rebuild. The direct economic effects annually of closing Federal waters is evaluated using the recent three year average catch (27,306 lb, 12,386 kg) and E:\FR\FM\26NOP1.SGM 26NOP1 67428 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 225 / Friday, November 26, 2021 / Proposed Rules assuming that the proportion of bottomfish habitat in Federal and territorial waters (26.4 and 73.6 percent respectively) reflect the proportion of catch. If Federal waters are closed, NMFS estimates that an estimated 7,209 lb (3,270 kg) that might have ordinarily been caught in Federal waters would not be caught and 20,097 lb (9,116 kg) would still be caught in territorial waters. The reduction in catch could be offset if fishing effort in Federal waters relocates to territorial waters (assuming the Guam government does not implement complementary measures in territorial waters). Additionally, fishery participants might decrease fishing effort as the fishery approaches the ACL in order to avoid a fishery closure in Federal waters. If complementary measures were implemented in territorial waters and the fishery exceeded the ACL, then catch would be 0 lb for every subsequent year after the closures until the stock is rebuilt or the rebuilding plan is modified based on the best scientific information available. With regard to revenue, with expected catch at 27,306 lb (12,386 kg) and roughly 17.5 percent of that catch sold at $4.82/lb ($10.56/kg), the total expected fishery-wide revenue is $23,283, which is similar to recent years. If the fishery exceeds the ACL and Federal waters are closed, there would be an expected loss of revenue of $6,081, or over $20 per fishery participant for every subsequent years of the rebuilding plan compared to the status quo, assuming fishermen do not transfer effort to territorial waters. However, fishermen could offset loss in revenue by selling some of their catch that had been intended to be retained or shared (non-commercial catch) or by relocating fishing effort to territorial waters, which could remain open. The fishery is not expected to substantially change the way it fishes with respect to fishing gear, fishing effort, participation, or intensity, but may change slightly with respect to total catch and areas fished, with the fishermen who would normally choose to fish in Federal waters being affected more adversely. Larger impacts would occur if the Guam government implemented a complementary closure in territorial waters. While limiting total bottomfish catches to 31,000 lb (14,061 kg) annually may result in short-term economic impacts to Guam bottomfish participants, rebuilding stock biomass to BMSY is expected to increase the exploitable biomass, which in turn is expected to provide for long-term sustainability of fishery resources while allowing fishery participants to continue to benefit from their use. NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. Based on available information, NMFS has determined that all vessels subject to the proposed action are small entities, i.e., they are engaged in the business of finfish harvesting (NAICS code 114111), are independently owned or operated, are not dominant in their field of operation, and have annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million. Even though this proposed action would apply to a substantial number of vessels, the implementation of this action would not result in significant adverse economic impact to individual vessels. The proposed action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with other Federal rules and is not expected to have significant impact on small entities (as discussed above), organizations or government jurisdictions. There does not appear to be disproportionate adverse economic impacts from the proposed rule based on home port, gear type, or relative vessel size. The proposed rule will not place a substantial number of small entities, or any segment of small entities, at a significant competitive disadvantage to large entities. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. This proposed rule contains no information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. List of Subjects in 50 CFR 665 Administrative practice and procedure, Bottomfish, Guam, Fisheries, Fishing, Mariana, Pacific Islands. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq. Dated: November 19, 2021. Samuel D. Rauch, III Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 CFR part 665 as follows: PART 665—FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 665 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 665.405, add paragraphs (g) and (h) to read as follows: ■ § 665.405 Prohibitions * * * * * (g) Fish for or possess any Mariana Bottomfish MUS as defined in § 665.401 in the Guam Management Subarea after a closure of the fishery in violation of § 665.409(d). (h) Sell or offer for sale any Mariana Bottomfish MUS as defined in § 665.401 in the Guam Management Subarea after a closure of the fishery in violation of § 665.409(e) ■ 3. Revise § 665.408 to read as follows: § 665.408 CNMI Annual Catch Limits (ACL) and Annual Catch Targets (ACT). (a) In accordance with § 665.4, the ACL and ACT for Mariana bottomfish MUS in the CNMI Management Subarea for each fishing year is as follows: TABLE 1 TO PARAGRAPH (a) 2021 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 ACL (lb) ........................................................................................................................................ ACT (lb) ....................................................................................................................................... (b) If the average catch of the three most recent years exceeds the specified ACL in a fishing year, the Regional Administrator will reduce the ACL and the ACT for the subsequent year by the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Nov 24, 2021 Jkt 256001 amount of the overage in a separate rulemaking. ■ 4. Add § 665.409 to read as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 2022 84,000 78,000 § 665.409 (ACL). 84,000 78,000 2023 84,000 78,000 Guam Annual Catch Limits (a) In accordance with § 665.4, the ACL for Mariana bottomfish MUS in the Guam Management Subarea is 31,000 lb. E:\FR\FM\26NOP1.SGM 26NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 225 / Friday, November 26, 2021 / Proposed Rules jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 (b) When NMFS projects the ACL will be reached, the Regional Administrator shall publish a document to that effect in the Federal Register and shall use other means to notify permit holders. The document will include an advisement that the fishery will be closed, beginning at a specified date that is not earlier than seven days after the date of filing the closure notice for public inspection at the Office of the Federal Register, through the end of the fishing year in which the catch limit is reached. (c) If the ACL is exceeded in any fishing year, the Regional Administrator shall publish a document to that effect VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Nov 24, 2021 Jkt 256001 in the Federal Register and shall use other means to notify permit holders. The document will include an advisement that the fishery will be closed, beginning at a specified date that is not earlier than seven days after the date of filing the closure notice for public inspection at the Office of the Federal Register. The fishery will remain closed until such time that a coordinated approach to management is developed and regulations are implemented that ensures catch in both Federal and territorial waters can be maintained at levels that allow the stock to rebuild or the rebuilding plan is PO 00000 modified based on the best scientific information available. (d) On and after the date the fishery is closed as specified in paragraphs (b) or (c) of this section, fishing for and possession of Mariana bottomfish MUS is prohibited in the Guam Management Subarea, except as otherwise authorized by law. (e) On and after the date the fishery is closed as specified in paragraphs (b) or (c) of this section, sale, offering for sale, and purchase of any Mariana bottomfish MUS caught in the Guam Management Subarea is prohibited. [FR Doc. 2021–25737 Filed 11–24–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P Frm 00068 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 67429 E:\FR\FM\26NOP1.SGM 26NOP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 225 (Friday, November 26, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 67426-67429]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-25737]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 665

[Docket No. 211119-0240]
RIN 0648-BK66


Pacific Island Fisheries; Rebuilding Plan for Guam Bottomfish

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement a rebuilding plan that includes 
annual catch limits (ACL) and accountability measures (AM) for the 
overfished bottomfish stock complex in Guam. This action is necessary 
to rebuild the overfished stock consistent with the requirements of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act).

DATES: NMFS must receive comments by January 10, 2022.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2021-0104, by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov 
and enter NOAA-NMFS-2021-0104 in the Search box, click the ``Comment'' 
icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, 
Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp 
Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.
    Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments sent by any other 
method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end 
of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the public 
record, and NMFS will generally post them for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), 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).
    The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared 
Amendment 6 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Mariana Archipelago 
(FEP), which includes a draft environmental assessment (EA) and 
Regulatory Impact Review. Copies of Amendment 6 and other supporting 
documents are available at www.regulations.gov, or from the Council, 
1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808-522-8220, 
www.wpcouncil.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Taylor, NMFS PIR Sustainable 
Fisheries, 808-725-5182.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Guam 
bottomfish fishery under the FEP and implementing regulations. The Guam 
fishery harvests 11 species of emperors, snappers, groupers, and jacks. 
There are more than 300 participants in the fishery. Most (73.6 
percent) of the bottomfish habitat is in territorial waters (generally 
from the shoreline to 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) offshore), with the 
rest in Federal waters (i.e., the U.S Exclusive Economic Zone) around 
offshore banks to the northeast and southwest of Guam. Fishing is 
mostly from vessels less than 25 ft (7.6 m) in length close to shore, 
targeting shallow-water species for recreational, subsistence, and 
small-scale commercial purposes. A few larger vessels make trips to 
offshore banks to harvest deepwater species primarily for commercial 
purposes.
    There is no mandatory reporting catch data collection system in 
Guam. The Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources (DAWR) 
collects fishery catch information from fishermen through voluntary 
creel surveys, and commercial sales data from the commercial receipt 
book program. NMFS requires large vessels (>50 ft, 15.2 m) that fish in 
Federal waters to hold a Federal permit and report their catch; there 
are no current Federal permits holders. The NOAA Office of Law 
Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard are responsible for the 
enforcement of regulations in Federal waters and Guam's Department of 
Agriculture Law Enforcement Section is responsible for the enforcement 
of regulations in territorial waters.
    Since 2001, the fishery has landed between 11,711 (5,312 kg) and 
54,062 lb (24,522 kg) annually. The most recent 3-year average (2018-
2020) Guam bottomfish catch (from both Federal and territorial waters) 
was 27,306 lb (12,386 kg), and the fishery landed 18,933 lb (8,588 kg) 
in 2020. Although bottomfish have accounted for only 10-15 percent of 
Guam's boat-based fish harvest, bottomfish hold fundamental dietary and 
cultural importance for the people of Guam. Federal waters around Guam

[[Page 67427]]

remain important for the harvest of deepwater snappers at offshore 
banks to provide locally sourced bottomfish.
    On February 10, 2020, NMFS notified the Council that the Guam 
bottomfish stock complex was overfished, but not subject to overfishing 
(85 FR 26940, May 6, 2020). Bottomfish are considered to be overfished 
when the stock complex's biomass (B) declines below the level necessary 
to produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) on a continuing basis. 
Consistent with section 304(e) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 600.310(j), the Council must 
prepare, and NMFS must implement a rebuilding plan within two years of 
the notification. The rebuilding plan must specify the timeframe for 
rebuilding the Guam bottomfish stock complex's biomass to 
BMSY, which is the long-term average size of the stock 
complex that would be achieved by fishing at maximum sustainable yield. 
The rebuilding timeframe must be as short as possible, taking into 
account the status and biology of the overfished stock, the needs of 
fishing communities, and the interaction of the overfished stock of 
fish within the marine ecosystem and cannot exceed 10 years, except in 
cases where the biology of the stock of fish, other environmental 
conditions, or management measures under an international agreement in 
which the United States participates dictate otherwise. The rebuilding 
must also have at least a 50 percent probability of attaining the 
Bmsy, where such probabilities can be calculated.
    If approved, Amendment 6 would implement a rebuilding plan for the 
Guam bottomfish stock complex that consists of an ACL and two AMs. We 
would set the ACL at 31,000 lb (14,061 kg) starting in 2022. Because 
the complex exists in both territorial and Federal waters around Guam, 
we are obligated to manage the stock throughout its range and would 
count harvests from territorial and Federal waters toward the ACL. 
However, existing data collection programs do not differentiate catch 
from territorial versus Federal waters.
    As an in-season AM, if NMFS projects that the fishery will reach 
the ACL in any year, then we would close the fishery in Federal waters 
for the remainder of that year. Because Guam does not currently have 
regulations in place to implement a complementary ACL and in-season AM 
in territorial waters, as an additional AM, if subsequent analyses 
indicate that the fishery exceeded the ACL during a year, we would 
close the fishery in Federal waters until NMFS and the Territory of 
Guam implement a coordinated management approach and implement 
regulations to ensure that the catch in both Federal and territorial 
waters is maintained at levels that allow the stock to rebuild to 
Bmsy. The rebuilding plan would remain in place until NMFS 
determines that the stock complex is rebuilt, which is expected to take 
nine years. This rebuilding plan was selected because it allows for the 
least disruption to the fishing community and minimizes negative socio-
economic impacts while still rebuilding the stock complex within the 
10-year period required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS and the 
Council would review the rebuilding plan routinely every two years and 
modify it, as necessary, per section 304(e)(7) of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act.
    NMFS must receive comments on this proposed rule by the date 
provided in the DATES section. NMFS is also soliciting comments on 
proposed Amendment 6, as stated in the Notice of Availability (NOA) 
published on November 15, 2021 (86 FR 62982). NMFS must receive 
comments on the NOA by January 14, 2022. NMFS may not consider any 
comments not postmarked or otherwise transmitted by that date. NMFS 
will consider comments on the NOA and this proposed rule in our 
decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve Amendment 6.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed action 
is consistent with the FEP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after 
public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and 
the legal basis for it are contained in the preamble to this proposed 
rule.
    The Guam bottomfish fishery consists of the shallow water component 
and deepwater component, with an estimated 300 or more participants. 
The shallow water component is likely larger than the deepwater 
component in terms of catch and effort due to the lower expense and 
ease of fishing close to shore. Smaller fishing vessels (<25 ft, 7.6 m) 
comprise most of the Guam bottomfish fishing fleet, and tend to target 
shallow water bottomfish species for recreational, subsistence, and 
small-scale commercial purposes. The few relatively large vessels in 
the fishery are more likely to target the deepwater complex at offshore 
banks and primarily fish for commercial reasons, although small non-
commercial boats do fish offshore. Fishermen sometimes combine 
bottomfish fishing with other methods of harvest such as trolling, 
spearing and jigging, and many commercial fishermen supplement their 
bottomfish fishing effort with trolling for pelagic fish. Guam's 
bottomfish fishery is highly seasonal with fishing effort higher during 
the summer months. Although bottomfish fishing has only accounted for 
10 to 15 percent of Guam's long-term boat-based fisheries harvest, 
bottomfish hold fundamental dietary and cultural importance for the 
people of Guam. Fishing grounds in Federal waters around Guam remain 
important for the harvest of deepwater snappers at offshore banks to 
provide locally sourced bottomfish the island's inhabitants, and the 
extensive community networks for sharing locally caught fish suggest 
that it is likely that the social benefits of fishing are widely shared 
by many of Guam's long-term residents. Bottomfish catch ranged from 
11,711 lb (5,312 kg) to 31,760 lb (14,406 kg) between 2012 and 2020, 
and the catch over the last three years averaged 27,306 lb (12,386 kg). 
The Guam bottomfish fishery has been managed with ACL and AMs since 
2012 and although catch from both territorial waters and Federal waters 
count toward the ACL, catch reports do not specify whether the 
bottomfish catch came from territorial or Federal waters.
    Bottomfish catches in the fishery has surpassed 31,000 lb (14,061 
kg) only twice in the past 10 years: 31,226 lb (14,164 kg) in 2018 and 
31,760 lb (14,406 kg) in 2019. We do not expect the fishery to reach 
the proposed ACL, but it is possible, and we anticipate a 30 percent 
probability of a closure in Federal waters. If the fishery exceeds the 
ACL, the fishery will be subject to the higher performance standard for 
subsequent years, which would close the bottomfish fishery in Federal 
waters until a coordinated management approach is developed to ensure 
both Federal and territorial waters can be maintained at levels that 
allow the stock to rebuild. The direct economic effects annually of 
closing Federal waters is evaluated using the recent three year average 
catch (27,306 lb, 12,386 kg) and

[[Page 67428]]

assuming that the proportion of bottomfish habitat in Federal and 
territorial waters (26.4 and 73.6 percent respectively) reflect the 
proportion of catch. If Federal waters are closed, NMFS estimates that 
an estimated 7,209 lb (3,270 kg) that might have ordinarily been caught 
in Federal waters would not be caught and 20,097 lb (9,116 kg) would 
still be caught in territorial waters. The reduction in catch could be 
offset if fishing effort in Federal waters relocates to territorial 
waters (assuming the Guam government does not implement complementary 
measures in territorial waters). Additionally, fishery participants 
might decrease fishing effort as the fishery approaches the ACL in 
order to avoid a fishery closure in Federal waters. If complementary 
measures were implemented in territorial waters and the fishery 
exceeded the ACL, then catch would be 0 lb for every subsequent year 
after the closures until the stock is rebuilt or the rebuilding plan is 
modified based on the best scientific information available.
    With regard to revenue, with expected catch at 27,306 lb (12,386 
kg) and roughly 17.5 percent of that catch sold at $4.82/lb ($10.56/
kg), the total expected fishery-wide revenue is $23,283, which is 
similar to recent years. If the fishery exceeds the ACL and Federal 
waters are closed, there would be an expected loss of revenue of 
$6,081, or over $20 per fishery participant for every subsequent years 
of the rebuilding plan compared to the status quo, assuming fishermen 
do not transfer effort to territorial waters. However, fishermen could 
offset loss in revenue by selling some of their catch that had been 
intended to be retained or shared (non-commercial catch) or by 
relocating fishing effort to territorial waters, which could remain 
open.
    The fishery is not expected to substantially change the way it 
fishes with respect to fishing gear, fishing effort, participation, or 
intensity, but may change slightly with respect to total catch and 
areas fished, with the fishermen who would normally choose to fish in 
Federal waters being affected more adversely. Larger impacts would 
occur if the Guam government implemented a complementary closure in 
territorial waters. While limiting total bottomfish catches to 31,000 
lb (14,061 kg) annually may result in short-term economic impacts to 
Guam bottomfish participants, rebuilding stock biomass to 
BMSY is expected to increase the exploitable biomass, which 
in turn is expected to provide for long-term sustainability of fishery 
resources while allowing fishery participants to continue to benefit 
from their use.
    NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, 
including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial 
fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial 
fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is 
independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of 
operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts 
not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations 
worldwide. Based on available information, NMFS has determined that all 
vessels subject to the proposed action are small entities, i.e., they 
are engaged in the business of finfish harvesting (NAICS code 114111), 
are independently owned or operated, are not dominant in their field of 
operation, and have annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million. 
Even though this proposed action would apply to a substantial number of 
vessels, the implementation of this action would not result in 
significant adverse economic impact to individual vessels.
    The proposed action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with 
other Federal rules and is not expected to have significant impact on 
small entities (as discussed above), organizations or government 
jurisdictions. There does not appear to be disproportionate adverse 
economic impacts from the proposed rule based on home port, gear type, 
or relative vessel size. The proposed rule will not place a substantial 
number of small entities, or any segment of small entities, at a 
significant competitive disadvantage to large entities. As a result, an 
initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has 
been prepared.
    This proposed rule contains no information collection requirements 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR 665

    Administrative practice and procedure, Bottomfish, Guam, Fisheries, 
Fishing, Mariana, Pacific Islands.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq.

    Dated: November 19, 2021.
Samuel D. Rauch, III
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 
CFR part 665 as follows:

PART 665--FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC

0
1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 665 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
0
2. In Sec.  665.405, add paragraphs (g) and (h) to read as follows:


Sec.  665.405  Prohibitions

* * * * *
    (g) Fish for or possess any Mariana Bottomfish MUS as defined in 
Sec.  665.401 in the Guam Management Subarea after a closure of the 
fishery in violation of Sec.  665.409(d).
    (h) Sell or offer for sale any Mariana Bottomfish MUS as defined in 
Sec.  665.401 in the Guam Management Subarea after a closure of the 
fishery in violation of Sec.  665.409(e)
0
3. Revise Sec.  665.408 to read as follows:


Sec.  665.408  CNMI Annual Catch Limits (ACL) and Annual Catch Targets 
(ACT).

    (a) In accordance with Sec.  665.4, the ACL and ACT for Mariana 
bottomfish MUS in the CNMI Management Subarea for each fishing year is 
as follows:

                                            Table 1 to Paragraph (a)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       2021            2022            2023
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ACL (lb)........................................................          84,000          84,000          84,000
ACT (lb)........................................................          78,000          78,000          78,000
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (b) If the average catch of the three most recent years exceeds the 
specified ACL in a fishing year, the Regional Administrator will reduce 
the ACL and the ACT for the subsequent year by the amount of the 
overage in a separate rulemaking.
0
4. Add Sec.  665.409 to read as follows:


Sec.  665.409  Guam Annual Catch Limits (ACL).

    (a) In accordance with Sec.  665.4, the ACL for Mariana bottomfish 
MUS in the Guam Management Subarea is 31,000 lb.

[[Page 67429]]

    (b) When NMFS projects the ACL will be reached, the Regional 
Administrator shall publish a document to that effect in the Federal 
Register and shall use other means to notify permit holders. The 
document will include an advisement that the fishery will be closed, 
beginning at a specified date that is not earlier than seven days after 
the date of filing the closure notice for public inspection at the 
Office of the Federal Register, through the end of the fishing year in 
which the catch limit is reached.
    (c) If the ACL is exceeded in any fishing year, the Regional 
Administrator shall publish a document to that effect in the Federal 
Register and shall use other means to notify permit holders. The 
document will include an advisement that the fishery will be closed, 
beginning at a specified date that is not earlier than seven days after 
the date of filing the closure notice for public inspection at the 
Office of the Federal Register. The fishery will remain closed until 
such time that a coordinated approach to management is developed and 
regulations are implemented that ensures catch in both Federal and 
territorial waters can be maintained at levels that allow the stock to 
rebuild or the rebuilding plan is modified based on the best scientific 
information available.
    (d) On and after the date the fishery is closed as specified in 
paragraphs (b) or (c) of this section, fishing for and possession of 
Mariana bottomfish MUS is prohibited in the Guam Management Subarea, 
except as otherwise authorized by law.
    (e) On and after the date the fishery is closed as specified in 
paragraphs (b) or (c) of this section, sale, offering for sale, and 
purchase of any Mariana bottomfish MUS caught in the Guam Management 
Subarea is prohibited.

[FR Doc. 2021-25737 Filed 11-24-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P