Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2022 and 2023 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 68608-68624 [2021-26180]

Download as PDF 68608 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules We may or may not choose to contact individual responders. Such communications would be for the sole purpose of clarifying statements in the responders’ written responses. Contractor support personnel may be used to review responses to this RFI. Responses to this RFI are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract or issue a grant. Information obtained as a result of this RFI may be used by the Government for program planning on a nonattribution basis. Respondents should not include any information that might be considered proprietary or confidential. This RFI should not be construed as a commitment or authorization to incur costs for which reimbursement would be required or sought. All submissions become United States Government property and will not be returned. In addition, we may publicly post the public comments received, or a summary of those public comments. I, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, approved this document on August 4, 2021. Xavier Becerra, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services. [FR Doc. 2021–26146 Filed 12–1–21; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4120–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No.: 21123–0243; RTID 0648– XY119] Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2022 and 2023 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; harvest specifications and request for comments. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 AGENCY: NMFS proposes 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 limits for groundfish during the 2022 and 2023 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). The 2022 harvest specifications supersede those previously set in the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications, and the 2023 harvest specifications will be superseded in early 2023 when the final 2023 and 2024 harvest specifications are published. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). DATES: Comments must be received by January 3, 2022. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2020–0141, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and enter 211123–0243 in the Search box. Click on the ‘‘Comment’’ icon, complete the required fields and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Records Office. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668. Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the comment period ends. All comments received are a part of the public record, and NMFS will post the comments for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender is publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS, and the annual Supplementary Information Reports (SIRs) to the Final EIS prepared for this action are available from https:// www.regulations.gov. An updated 2022 SIR for the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications will be available from the same source. The final 2020 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2020, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501–2252, phone 907–271–2809, or from the Council’s website at https://www.npfmc.org/. The 2021 SAFE report for the BSAI will be available from the same source. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907–586–7228. Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 implement the FMP and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it, under the MagnusonStevens Act. General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. The FMP and its implementing regulations require that NMFS, after consultation with the Council, specify annually the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum of TACs for all groundfish species in the BSAI must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see § 679.20(a)(1)(i)(A)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires that NMFS publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal Register and solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof; prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances; prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves established by § 679.21; seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC; American Fisheries Act allocations; Amendment 80 allocations; Community Development Quota (CDQ) reserve amounts established by § 679.20(b)(1)(ii); and acceptable biological catch (ABC) surpluses and reserves for CDQ groups and Amendment 80 cooperatives for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 15 of this action satisfy these requirements. Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 2021 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 2022 SIR to the Final EIS that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the final 2021 SAFE report prepared for the 2022 and 2023 groundfish fisheries. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Other Actions Affecting or Potentially Affecting the 2022 and 2023 Harvest Specifications State of Alaska Guideline Harvest Levels For 2022 and 2023, the Board of Fisheries (BOF) for the State of Alaska (State) established the guideline harvest level (GHL) for vessels using pot gear in State waters in the Bering Sea subarea (BS). The 2021 BS GHL was set at 10 percent of the 2021 BS ABC (86 FR 11449, February 25, 2021). The State’s pot gear BS GHL will increase one percent annually up to 15 percent of the BS ABC, if at least 90 percent of the GHL is harvested by November 15 of the preceding year. In 2021, 90 percent of the GHL was harvested by November 15, 2021, which triggers a 1 percent increase in the GHL in 2022 and results in a 2022 GHL of 11 percent of the proposed Pacific cod BS ABC. If at least 90 percent of the 2022 BS GHL is not harvested by November 15, 2022, then the 2023 BS GHL will remain at the same percent (11 percent) as the 2022 BS GHL. If 90 percent of the 2022 BS GHL is harvested by November 15, 2022, then the 2023 BS GHL will increase by 1 percent and the 2023 BS TAC will be set to account for the increased BS GHL. Also, for 2022 and 2023, the BOF established an additional GHL for vessels using jig gear in State waters in the BS equal to 45 mt of Pacific cod. The Council and its BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team), Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Advisory Panel (AP) recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the BS not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations for Pacific cod in the BS. Accordingly, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, that the 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs in the BS account for the State’s GHLs for Pacific cod caught in State waters. For 2022 and 2023, the BOF for the State established the GHL in State waters in the Aleutian Islands subarea (AI). In 2021, 90 percent of the GHL has been harvested by November 15, 2021, and results in a 2022 GHL of 39 percent of the proposed Pacific cod AI ABC. The AI GHL may not exceed 39 percent of the AI ABC or 15 million pounds (6,804 mt). In 2022, 39 percent of the proposed 2022 and 2023 AI ABC is 8,034 mt, which exceeds the AI GHL limit of 6,804 mt. The Council and its Plan Team, SSC, and AP recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the AI not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations for Pacific cod in the AI. Accordingly, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 that the 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs in the AI account for the State’s GHL of 6,804 mt for Pacific cod caught in State waters. Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications In October 2021, the Council’s SSC, its AP, and the Council reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Plan Team compiled and presented this information in the final 2020 SAFE report for the BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2020 (see ADDRESSES). The final 2021 SAFE report will be available from the same source. The proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications are based on the final 2022 harvest specifications published in February 2021 (86 FR 11449, February 25, 2021), which were set after consideration of the most recent 2020 SAFE report, and are based on the initial survey data that were presented at the September 2021 Plan Team meeting. The proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications in this action are subject to change in the final harvest specifications to be published by NMFS following the Council’s December 2021 meeting. In November 2021, the Plan Team will update the 2020 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2021, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team will compile this information and present the draft 2021 SAFE report at the December 2021 Council meeting. At that meeting, the SSC and the Council will review the 2021 SAFE report, and the Council will approve the 2021 SAFE report. The Council will consider information in the 2021 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2021 Plan Team meeting and December 2021 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written comments in making its recommendations for the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications. Potential Changes Between Proposed and Final Specifications In previous years, the most significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of fish) to the Overfishing Levels (OFLs) and ABCs from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys. These surveys provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and inform changes to the models or the models’ results used for producing stock assessments. Any changes to models used in stock assessments will be PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 68609 recommended by the Plan Team in November 2021, reviewed by the SSC in December 2021, and then included in the final 2021 SAFE report. Model changes can result in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs. The final 2021 SAFE report will include the most recent information, such as catch data. The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not expected to vary greatly from these proposed harvest specification amounts. If the 2021 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the 2021 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications. In addition to changes driven by biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs exceeding 2 million mt. Since the regulations require TACs to be set to an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan Team and the SSC, if setting all TACs equal to ABCs would cause the sum of TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt. Generally, total ABCs greatly exceed 2 million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. For both 2022 and 2023, NMFS anticipates that the sum of the final ABCs will exceed 2 million mt. NMFS expects that the final TACs for the BSAI for both 2022 and 2023 will equal 2 million mt each year. The proposed 2022 and 2023 OFLs and ABCs are based on the best available biological and scientific information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 represents the highest level of information quality available, while Tier 6 represents the lowest. The proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information. In October 2021, the SSC adopted the proposed 2022 and 2023 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. The OFL and ABC amounts are unchanged from the final 2022 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on February 25, E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 68610 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules 2021 (86 FR 11449). The sum of the proposed 2022 and 2023 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 2,682,318 mt. The sum of the proposed TACs is 2,000,000 mt. Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs that are equal to the proposed ABCs for 2022 and 2023 BS sablefish, Central AI Atka mackerel, BS and Eastern AI Atka mackerel, BS Pacific ocean perch, Central AI Pacific ocean perch, Eastern AI Pacific ocean perch, Central AI and Western AI blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, and AI ‘‘other rockfish.’’ The Council recommended proposed TACs less than the respective proposed ABCs for all other species. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY. The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change pending the completion of the final 2021 SAFE report, public comment, and the Council’s recommendations for the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications during its December 2021 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2020 SAFE report. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. The proposed TACs have been adjusted for other biological information and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the entire TAC within the required OY range. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, the Council could recommend adjusting the final TACs ‘‘if warranted on the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to fall within the OY range.’’ Table 1 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts among fisheries and seasons is discussed below. TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] Proposed 2022 and 2023 Species Pollock 4 ....................... Pacific cod 5 ................. Sablefish ...................... Yellowfin sole ............... Greenland turbot .......... Arrowtooth flounder ..... Kamchatka flounder ..... Rock sole 6 ................... Flathead sole 7 ............. Alaska plaice ................ Other flatfish 8 .............. Pacific Ocean perch .... Northern rockfish ......... Blackspotted/Rougheye rockfish 9. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Shortraker rockfish ....... Other rockfish 10 ........... Atka mackerel .............. Skates .......................... Sharks .......................... Octopuses .................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Area OFL ABC TAC BS .................. AI ................... Bogoslof ......... BS .................. AI ................... Alaska-wide ... BS .................. AI ................... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BS .................. AI ................... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BS .................. EAI ................. CAI ................. WAI ................ BSAI ............... BSAI ............... 2,366,000 61,308 113,479 128,340 27,400 70,710 n/a n/a 374,982 7,181 n/a n/a 94,368 10,843 213,783 77,763 36,928 22,919 42,384 n/a n/a n/a n/a 18,221 595 1,484,000 50,789 85,109 106,852 20,600 36,995 4,863 6,860 344,140 6,139 5,175 964 80,323 9,163 206,605 64,119 30,815 17,189 35,503 10,298 8,041 5,919 11,245 14,984 500 1,400,000 19,000 100 95,053 13,796 n/a 4,863 5,061 200,000 6,025 5,125 900 15,000 8,982 54,500 25,000 22,500 6,500 34,758 10,298 8,041 5,919 10,500 13,000 326 BS/EAI ........... CAI/WAI ......... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BS .................. AI ................... BSAI ............... EAI/BS ........... CAI ................. WAI ................ BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... n/a n/a 722 1,751 n/a n/a 79,660 n/a n/a n/a 47,372 689 4,769 324 176 541 1,313 919 394 68,220 23,880 14,330 30,010 39,598 517 3,576 150 176 225 694 300 394 57,717 23,880 14,330 19,507 16,000 200 700 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 CDQ 3 4 Nonspecified reserves 1,260,000 17,100 100 84,882 12,320 n/a 2,067 1,075 178,600 5,121 4,356 765 12,750 7,635 48,669 22,325 19,125 5,525 30,596 8,753 7,181 5,286 9,377 11,050 277 140,000 1,900 ........................ 10,171 1,476 n/a 182 95 21,400 n/a 548 ........................ 1,605 ........................ 5,832 2,675 ........................ ........................ n/a ........................ 860 633 1,124 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 2,614 3,891 ........................ ........................ 220 135 645 1,347 ........................ ........................ 3,375 975 ........................ 1,545 ........................ ........................ ........................ 1,950 49 128 150 191 590 255 335 51,541 21,325 12,797 17,420 13,600 170 595 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 6,176 2,555 1,533 2,087 ........................ ........................ ........................ 23 26 34 104 45 59 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 2,400 30 105 ITAC 2 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules 68611 TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI 1— Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] Proposed 2022 and 2023 Species Total ...................... Area ........................ OFL ABC TAC 3,802,167 2,707,590 2,000,000 ITAC 2 1,785,904 CDQ 3 4 194,677 Nonspecified reserves 19,419 1 These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these harvest specifications, the Bering Sea subarea (BS) includes the Bogoslof District. 2 Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a nonspecified reserve. The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after subtraction of the reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80 species, ITAC is the non-CDQ allocation of TAC (see footnote 3 and 4). 3 For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 10.7 percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea Greenland turbot and BSAI arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). The 2022 hook-and-line or pot gear portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications. Aleutian Islands Greenland turbot, ‘‘other flatfish,’’ Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, ‘‘other rockfish,’’ skates, sharks, and octopuses are not allocated to the CDQ Program. 4 Under § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual BS pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (4 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: Inshore–50 percent; catcher/ processor–40 percent; and motherships–10 percent. Under § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual Aleutian Islands (AI) pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,500 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. 5 The proposed BS Pacific cod TAC is set to account for the 11 percent, plus 45 mt, of the BS ABC for the State of Alaska’s (State) guideline harvest level in State waters of the BS. The proposed AI Pacific cod TAC is set to account for 39 percent of the AI ABC for the State guideline harvest level in State waters of the AI, unless the State guideline harvest level would exceed 15 million pounds (6,804 mt), in which case the TAC is set to account for the maximum authorized State guideline harvest level of 6,804 mt. 6‘‘Rock sole’’ includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole). 7‘‘Flathead sole’’ includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder). 8 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 9 ‘‘Blackspotted/Rougheye rockfish’’ includes Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted) and Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye). 10 ’’Other rockfish’’ includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, dark rockfish, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and blackspotted/rougheye rockfish. Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2 (BSAI = Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area, BS = Bering Sea subarea, AI = Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI = Eastern Aleutian district, CAI = Central Aleutian district, WAI = Western Aleutian district.) jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and AI Pacific Ocean Perch Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the TAC for each target species category (except for pollock, hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species) in a nonspecified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that NMFS allocate 20 percent of the hookand-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve for each subarea. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires that NMFS allocate 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of BS Greenland turbot and BSAI arrowtooth flounder TACs to the respective CDQ reserves. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires that NMFS allocate 10.7 percent of the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the respective CDQ reserves. Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) require allocation of 10 percent of the BS pollock TAC to the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance (DFA). Sections 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and 679.31(a) require 10 percent of the AI pollock TAC be allocated to the pollock CDQ DFA. The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(ii) because the Bogoslof District is closed to directed fishing for pollock by regulation (§ 679.22(a)(7)(B)). With the exception of the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ reserves by gear. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 4 percent of the BS pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS’s examination of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2000 through 2021. During this 22-year period, the pollock incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.2 percent in 2006 to a high of 4.6 percent in 2014, with a 22-year average of 3 percent. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 15 percent or PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 2,500 mt of the AI pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS’s examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2021. During this 19-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2014, with a 19-year average of 9 percent. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 3,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 4,000 mt of yellowfin sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 60 mt of Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 20 mt of Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka mackerel, and 800 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and BS Atka mackerel, after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserves. These ICAs are based on NMFS’s examination of the incidental catch in other target fisheries from 2003 through 2021. E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 68612 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules The regulations do not designate the remainder of the nonspecified reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be apportioned to a target species that contributed to the nonspecified reserve during the year, provided that such apportionments are consistent with § 679.20(a)(3) and do not result in overfishing (see § 679.20(b)(1)(i)). Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA) Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that BS pollock TAC be apportioned as a DFA, after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ Program and 4 percent for the ICA, as follows: 50 percent to the inshore sector, 40 percent to the catcher/ processor (CP) sector, and 10 percent to the mothership sector. In the BS, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20 to June 10), and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (§§ 679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)(1) and 679.23(e)(2)). The AI directed pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock TAC remaining in the AI after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent), and 2,500 mt for the ICA (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)). In the AI, the total A season apportionment of the pollock TAC (including the AI directed fishery allocation, the CDQ DFA, and the ICA) may equal up to 40 percent of the ABC for AI pollock, and the remainder of the pollock TAC is allocated to the B season (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(3)). Table 2 lists these proposed 2022 and 2023 amounts. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 15 percent of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent of the AI pollock ABC. Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) includes several specific requirements regarding BS pollock allocations. First, it requires that 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the CP sector be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels (CVs) with CP sector endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that allows the distribution of harvest among AFA CPs and AFA CVs in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA CPs not listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the CP sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 13, 14, and 15 list the AFA CP and CV harvesting sideboard limits. The BS inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations are based on the submission of AFA inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2022 have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS therefore cannot calculate 2022 allocations, NMFS has not included inshore cooperative tables in these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2022 AFA inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheriesmanagement-reports prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2022, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at § 679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the annual pollock DFA before 12:00 noon, April 1, as provided in § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector’s allocated percentage of the DFA. TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] 2022 and 2023 Allocations jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Area and sector Bering Sea subarea TAC ................................................................................ CDQ DFA ......................................................................................................... ICA 1 ................................................................................................................. Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ) ................................................................... AFA Inshore ..................................................................................................... AFA Catcher/Processors 3 ............................................................................... Catch by CPs ........................................................................................... Catch by CVs 3 ......................................................................................... Unlisted CP Limit 4 ............................................................................. AFA Motherships ............................................................................................. Excessive Harvesting Limit 5 ............................................................................ Excessive Processing Limit 6 ........................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea ABC ......................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea TAC ......................................................................... CDQ DFA ......................................................................................................... ICA ................................................................................................................... Aleut Corporation ............................................................................................. Area harvest limit 7 ........................................................................................... 541 ............................................................................................................ 542 ............................................................................................................ 543 ............................................................................................................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 1,400,000 140,000 50,400 1,209,600 604,800 483,840 442,714 41,126 2,419 120,960 211,680 362,880 50,789 19,000 1,900 2,500 14,600 n/a 15,237 7,618 2,539 A season 1 A season DFA n/a 63,000 n/a 544,320 272,160 217,728 199,221 18,507 1,089 54,432 n/a n/a n/a n/a 760 1,250 14,600 n/a n/a n/a n/a E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 B season 1 SCA harvest limit 2 n/a 39,200 n/a 338,688 169,344 135,475 n/a n/a n/a 33,869 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a B season DFA n/a 77,000 n/a 665,280 332,640 266,112 243,492 22,620 1,331 66,528 n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,140 1,250 ........................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 68613 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2022 and 2023 Allocations Area and sector Bogoslof District ICA 8 ...................................................................................... A season 1 A season DFA 100 B season 1 SCA harvest limit 2 n/a B season DFA n/a n/a 1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (4 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: Inshore sector–50 percent, catcher/processor sector (CPs)–40 percent, and mothership sector–10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20–June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10–November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) through (iii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second for the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated up to 40 percent of the AI pollock ABC. 2 In the Bering Sea subarea, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C), no more than 28 percent of each sector’s annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1. 3 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed CPs shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels with a CP endorsement delivering to listed CPs, unless there is a CP sector cooperative for the year. 4 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted CPs are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the C/P sector’s allocation of pollock. 5 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 6 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 7 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. 8 Pursuant to § 679.22(a)(7)(B), the Bogoslof District is closed to directed fishing for pollock. The amounts specified are for incidental catch only and are not apportioned by season or sector. Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and non-trawl gear sectors, and the jig gear allocation (Table 3). The percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel TAC may be allocated to vessels using jig gear. The percent of this allocation is recommended annually by the Council based on several criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, a 0.5 percent allocation of the Atka mackerel TAC in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2022 and 2023. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies Atka mackerel seasons to trawl CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and jig gear allocations are not apportioned by season. Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limit Atka mackerel catch within waters 0 nautical miles (nmi) to 20 nmi of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located west of 178° W longitude to no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543, and equally divides the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires that the annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be prohibited from being harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nmi of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located in Areas 541, 542, and 543. Table 3 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 Atka mackerel season allowances, area allowances, and the sector allocations. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2022 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2022. The 2023 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2022. NMFS will post the 2023 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2023, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCES, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE (ICA), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] 2022 and 2023 allocation by area Eastern Aleutian District/ Bering Sea Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 TAC ....................................................................... n/a ......................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 23,880 03DEP1 Central Aleutian District 5 14,330 Western Aleutian District 5 19,507 68614 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCES, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE (ICA), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2022 and 2023 allocation by area Eastern Aleutian District/ Bering Sea Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 CDQ reserve ......................................................... Total ...................................................................... A ........................................................................... Critical habitat 5 ..................................................... B ........................................................................... Critical habitat 5 ..................................................... n/a ......................................................................... Total ...................................................................... Total ...................................................................... Total ...................................................................... A ........................................................................... Critical habitat 5 ..................................................... B ........................................................................... Critical habitat 5 ..................................................... Total ...................................................................... A ........................................................................... Critical habitat 5 ..................................................... B ........................................................................... Critical habitat 5 ..................................................... non-CDQ TAC ...................................................... ICA ........................................................................ Jig 6 ....................................................................... BSAI trawl limited access ..................................... Amendment 80 7 ................................................... 2,555 1,278 n/a 1,278 n/a 21,325 800 103 2,042 1,021 n/a 1,021 n/a 18,380 9,190 n/a 9,190 n/a Central Aleutian District 5 Western Aleutian District 5 1,533 767 460 767 460 12,797 75 .................... 1,272 636 382 636 382 11,450 5,725 3,435 5,725 3,435 2,087 1,044 626 1,044 626 17,420 20 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 17,400 8,700 5,220 8,700 5,220 1 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs, and the jig gear allocation, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and § 679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). 2 Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery. 3 The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. 4 Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31. 5 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to be caught inside of Steller sea lion critical habitat; § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3); and § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires that the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC in Area 543. 6 Sections 679.2 and 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserves and ICAs. The proposed amount of this allocation is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season. 7 The 2023 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2022. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC The Council separated BS and AI subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for Pacific cod in 2014 (79 FR 12108, March 4, 2014). Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC to the CDQ Program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector allocations. If the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be reached in either the BS or the AI subareas, NMFS will prohibit directed fishing for nonCDQ Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in § 679.20(d)(1)(iii). Section 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate to the non-CDQ sectors the combined BSAI Pacific cod TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ Program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent to hook-and-line or pot CVs less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and- VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 line CVs greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-andline CPs, 8.4 percent to pot CVs greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot CPs, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl CPs, 13.4 percent to the Amendment 80 sector, and 22.1 percent to trawl CVs. The BSAI ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. For 2022 and 2023, the Regional Administrator proposes a BSAI ICA of 400 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries. The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and § 679.91. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2022 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2022. The 2023 allocations for Pacific cod between PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2022. NMFS will post the 2023 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2023, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The sector allocations of Pacific cod are apportioned into seasonal allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see §§ 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B), 679.20 (a)(7)(iv)(A), and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a Pacific cod seasonal allowance for any sector, except the jig sector, will become available at the E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules beginning of that sector’s next seasonal allowance. Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires that the Regional Administrator establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 as determined by the annual stock assessment process. Based on the 2020 stock assessment, the Regional Administrator has preliminarily determined for 2022 and 2023 that the estimated amount of Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 is 15.7 percent of total AI abundance. NMFS will first subtract the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod ABC. Then NMFS will determine the harvest limit in Area 543 by multiplying the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543 (15.7 percent) by the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod. Based on these calculations, which rely on the 2020 stock assessment, the proposed Area 543 harvest limit is 2,166 mt. However, the final Area 543 harvest limit could change if the Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 changes based on the stock assessment in the final 2021 SAFE report. On March 21, 2019, the final rule adopting Amendment 113 to the FMP (81 FR 84434, November 23, 2016) was 68615 vacated by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Groundfish Forum v. Ross, No. 16–2495 (D.D.C. March 21, 2019)), and the corresponding regulations implementing Amendment 113 are no longer in effect. Therefore, this proposed rule is not specifying amounts for the AI Pacific Cod Catcher Vessel Harvest Set-Aside Program (see § 679.20(a)(7)(viii)). Table 4 lists the CDQ and non-CDQ seasonal allowances by gear based on the proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs; the sector allocations of Pacific cod; and the seasons set forth at § 679.23(e)(5). TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 SECTOR ALLOCATIONS AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI 1 PACIFIC COD TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector Percent 2022 and 2023 share of gear sector total 2022 and 2023 share of sector total Total Bering Sea TAC ..................................... Bering Sea CDQ ............................................. Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC .............................. Total Aleutian Islands TAC ............................. Aleutian Islands CDQ ...................................... Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC ...................... Western Aleutians Islands Limit ...................... Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC 1 ............................ Total hook-and-line/pot gear ........................... Hook-and-line/pot ICA 2 ................................... Hook-and-line/pot sub-total ............................. Hook-and-line catcher/processors ................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 100.0 60.8 n/a n/a 48.7 95,053 10,171 84,882 13,796 1,476 12,320 2,166 97,202 59,099 n/a 58,699 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 400 n/a 47,017 Hook-and-line catcher vessels ≥60 ft LOA ..... 0.2 n/a 193 Pot catcher/processors .................................... 1.5 n/a 1,448 Pot catcher vessels ≥60 ft LOA ...................... 8.4 n/a 8,110 Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA using hook-andline or pot gear. Trawl catcher vessels ...................................... 2.0 n/a 1,931 22.1 21,482 n/a AFA trawl catcher/processors ......................... 2.3 2,236 n/a Amendment 80 ................................................ 13.4 13,025 n/a Jig .................................................................... 1.4 1,361 n/a 2022 and 2023 seasonal apportionment Season Amount n/a .................................. See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) n/a .................................. n/a .................................. See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) n/a .................................. n/a .................................. n/a .................................. n/a .................................. n/a .................................. n/a .................................. Jan-1–Jun 10 ................. Jun 10–Dec 31 .............. Jan 1–Jun 10 ................. Jun 10–Dec 31 .............. Jan 1–Jun 10 ................. Sept 1–Dec 31 ............... Jan 1–Jun 10 ................. Sept-1–Dec 31 ............... n/a .................................. n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 23,979 23,038 98 95 739 710 4,136 3,974 n/a Jan 20–Apr 1 ................. Apr 1–Jun 10 ................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ................ Jan 20–Apr 1 ................. Apr 1–Jun 10 ................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ................ Jan 20–Apr 1 ................. Apr 1–Jun 10 ................. Jun 10–Dec 31 .............. Jan 1–Apr 30 ................. Apr 30–Aug 31 ............... Aug 31–Dec 31 .............. 15,896 2,363 3,222 1,677 559 ........................ 9,769 3,256 ........................ 816 272 272 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 1 The sector allocations and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, after subtraction of the reserve for the CDQ Program. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the BS or AI is or will be reached, then directed fishing will be prohibited for non-CDQ Pacific cod in that subarea, even if a BSAI allowance remains (§ 679.20(d)(1)(iii)). 2 The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 400 mt based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Sablefish Gear Allocation Section 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of sablefish TAC for the BS and AI between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the sablefish TAC for the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 BS are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TAC for the AI are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 NMFS apportion 20 percent of the hookand-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish TAC to the CDQ reserve for each subarea. Also, § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 68616 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules sablefish TAC from the nonspecified reserve, established under § 679.20(b)(1)(i), be apportioned to the CDQ reserve. The Council recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-andline or pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries are limited to the 2022 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries reduce the potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries remain closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts. TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 GEAR SHARES AND CDQ RESERVE OF BSAI SABLEFISH TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] Percent of TAC Subarea and gear 2022 Share of TAC 2022 CDQ reserve 2022 ITAC 1 2023 Share of TAC 2023 ITAC 2023 CDQ reserve Bering Sea: Trawl ...................................................... Hook-and-line gear/pot 2 ........................ 50 50 2,432 2,432 2,067 n/a 182 486 2,432 n/a 2,067 n/a 182 n/a Total ................................................ 100 4,863 2,067 669 2,432 2,067 182 Aleutian Islands: Trawl ...................................................... Hook-and-line gear/pot 2 ........................ 25 75 1,265 3,796 1,075 n/a 95 759 1,265 n/a 1,075 n/a 95 n/a Total ................................................ 100 5,061 1,075 854 1,265 1,075 95 1 For the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using trawl gear, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the nonspecified reserve (§ 679.20(b)(1)(i)). The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of this reserve. In the BS and AI, 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of TAC is assigned from the nonspecified reserve to the CDQ reserve (§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1)). 2 For the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B)). The Council recommended that specifications for the hook-and-line and pot gear sablefish IFQ fisheries be limited to one year. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Allocation of the AI Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs Section 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs between the Amendment 80 sector and the BSAI trawl limited access sector, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserves and amounts for ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2022 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2022. The 2023 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2022. NMFS will post the 2023 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2023, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 6 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs. TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] 2022 and 2023 allocations Pacific ocean perch Sector jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Eastern Aleutian District TAC ...................................................................... CDQ ..................................................................... ICA ....................................................................... BSAI trawl limited access sector ......................... Amendment 80 1 .................................................. Central Aleutian District 8,041 860 100 708 6,373 5,919 633 60 523 4,703 Western Aleutian District 10,500 1,124 10 187 9,179 Flathead sole Rock sole Yellowfin sole BSAI BSAI BSAI 25,000 2,675 3,000 .......................... 19,325 54,500 5,832 6,000 .................... 42,669 200,000 21,400 4,000 34,782 139,818 1 The 2023 allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2022. Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole as the difference between VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 the annual ABC and TAC for each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for flathead PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules variability, environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at or below the ABC surplus for each species, thus maintaining the TAC below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves will be allocated as CDQ ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. Section 679.31(b)(4) establishes the annual allocations of CDQ ABC reserves among the CDQ groups. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves are the ABC reserves minus the CDQ ABC reserves and are allocated to each Amendment 80 cooperative pursuant to § 679.91(i)(2), which establishes each Amendment 80 68617 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each cooperatives’ quota share units and the total Amendment 80 quota share units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective species. Table 7 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 ABC surplus and ABC reserves for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 ABC SURPLUS, ABC RESERVES, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) ABC RESERVES, AND AMENDMENT 80 ABC RESERVES IN THE BSAI FOR FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE [Amounts are in metric tons] Flathead sole 1 Sector ABC .................................................................................................................................... TAC .................................................................................................................................... ABC surplus ....................................................................................................................... ABC reserve ...................................................................................................................... CDQ ABC reserve ............................................................................................................. Amendment 80 ABC reserve ............................................................................................. Rock sole 1 64,119 25,000 39,119 39,119 4,186 34,933 206,605 54,500 152,105 152,105 16,275 135,830 Yellowfin sole 1 344,140 200,000 144,140 144,140 15,423 128,717 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 1 The 2023 allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2022. Proposed PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring Section 679.21(b), (e), (f), and (g) set forth the BSAI PSC limits. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1), the annual BSAI halibut PSC limits total 3,515 mt. Section 679.21(b)(1) allocates 315 mt of the halibut PSC limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program, 1,745 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector, 745 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, and 710 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the BSAI non-trawl sector. Section 679.21(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B) authorize apportionment of the BSAI non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC allowances among six fishery categories, and § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B), (e)(3)(i)(B), and (e)(3)(iv) require apportionment of the BSAI trawl limited access sector’s halibut and crab PSC limits into PSC allowances among seven fishery categories. Table 10 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the BSAI trawl limited access sector fisheries, and Table 11 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the non-trawl fisheries. Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, that certain specified nontrawl fisheries be exempt from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consultation with the Council, NMFS proposes to exempt the pot gear fishery, the jig gear fishery, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1) VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 The pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the IFQ Program requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using fixed gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the vessel is operating (§ 679.7(f)(11)). As of October 18, 2021, total groundfish catch for the pot gear fishery in the BSAI was 32,658 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch mortality of 7 mt. The 2021 jig gear fishery harvested about 20 mt of groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut bycatch in the jig gear fishery. As mentioned above, NMFS estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and released. Under § 679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of either 33,318, 45,000, 47,591, or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits among the AFA sectors, depending on past bycatch performance, on whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements (IPAs) are formed, and on whether NMFS determines it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year. NMFS PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 will determine that it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year when abundance of Chinook salmon in western Alaska is less than or equal to 250,000 Chinook salmon. The State provides to NMFS an estimate of Chinook salmon abundance using the 3System Index for western Alaska, based on the Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and Upper Yukon aggregate stock grouping. If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and if it is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and if it is not a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 45,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and if in a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 33,318 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D). E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 68618 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules NMFS has determined that 2021 was a low Chinook salmon abundance year, based on the State’s estimate that Chinook salmon abundance in western Alaska is less than 250,000 Chinook salmon. Therefore, in 2022, the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 45,000 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). The AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are also seasonally apportioned with 70 percent of the allocation for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season pollock fishery (§§ 679.21(f)(3)(i) and 679.23(e)(2)). In 2022, the Chinook salmon bycatch performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) is 33,318 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D). NMFS publishes the approved IPAs, allocations, and reports at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska. Section 679.21(g)(2)(i) specifies 700 fish as the 2022 and 2023 Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI pollock fishery. Section 679.21(g)(2)(ii) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and allocates the remaining 647 Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries. Section 679.21(f)(14)(i) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2022 and 2023 nonChinook salmon PSC limit for vessels using trawl gear from August 15 through October 14 in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area (CVOA). Section 679.21(f)(14)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494 non-Chinook salmon, in the CVOA as the PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA to the non-CDQ fisheries. PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as of October 2021 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, basing the proposed herring 2022 and 2023 PSC limits and apportionments on the 2020 survey data. The Council will reconsider these amounts in December 2021. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl gear PSC limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program. Based on the most recent (2021) survey data, the red king crab mature female abundance is estimated at 6.432 million red king crabs, and the effective spawning biomass is estimated at 20,862 million lbs (9,463 mt). Based on the criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(i), the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 proposed 2022 and 2023 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 32,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female abundance estimate below 8.4 million red king crab. Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS) if the State has established a GHL fishery for red king crab in the Bristol Bay area in the previous year. The State’s Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and NMFS have reviewed the final 2021 NMFS trawl survey data for the Bristol Bay red king crab stock. The stock is estimated to be below the regulatory threshold for opening a fishery. Therefore, the State did not establish a GHL for the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, and the fishery will remain closed for the 2021/ 2022 crab season. Also, NMFS and the Council will not specify an amount of the red king crab bycatch limit, annually established under § 679.21(e)(1)(i), for the RKCSS. Therefore, NMFS will close directed fishing for vessels using nonpelagic trawl gear in the RKCSS for 2022. NMFS and the Council will assess the RKCSS closure for 2023 if the State’s ADF&G establishes a GHL for the 2022/ 2023 red king crab fishery in the Bristol Bay area. Based on the most recent (2021) survey data from the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 385 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2022 and 2023 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 830,000 animals in Zone 1, and 2,520,000 animals in Zone 2. The limit in Zone 1 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi (estimated at 385 million animals), which is over 270 million to 400 million animals. The limit in Zone 2 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi (estimated at 385 million animals), which is over 290 million to 400 million animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for trawl gear for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in the C. opilio bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs, unless a minimum or maximum PSC limit applies. Based on the most recent (2021) survey estimate of 1.42 billion animals, the calculated C. opilio crab PSC limit is 1,608,860 animals. Because 0.1133 percent multiplied by the total abundance is less than 4.5 million, the minimum PSC PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 limit applies and the PSC limit will be 4.350 million animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best estimate of 2022 and 2023 herring biomass is 272,281 mt. This amount was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on biomass for spawning aggregations. Therefore, the herring PSC limit proposed for 2022 and 2023 is 2,723 mt for all trawl gear as listed in Tables 8 and 9. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires that PSQ reserves be subtracted from the total trawl PSC limits. The 2022 crab and halibut PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are listed in Table 35 to 50 CFR part 679. The resulting proposed allocations of crab and halibut PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access sector are listed in Table 8. Pursuant to §§ 679.21(b)(1)(i), 679.21(e)(3)(vi), and 679.91(d) through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 sector are then further allocated to Amendment 80 cooperatives as cooperative quotas. Crab and halibut PSC cooperative quotas assigned to Amendment 80 cooperatives are not allocated to specific fishery categories. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2022 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no PSC limit allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2022. The 2023 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2022. NMFS will post the 2023 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/sustainablefisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2023, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Section 679.21(b)(2) and (e)(5) authorize NMFS, after consulting with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of halibut and crab PSC amounts for the BSAI non-trawl, BSAI trawl limited access, and Amendment 80 limited access sectors to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors considered are (1) seasonal distribution E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 68619 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to prohibited species distribution, (3) prohibited species bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species biomass and expected catches of target groundfish species, (4) expected this criteria, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, the seasonal PSC apportionments in Tables 10 and 11 to maximize harvest among gear types, fisheries, and seasons, while minimizing bycatch of PSC. variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal prohibited species apportionments on segments of the target groundfish industry. Based on TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 APPORTIONMENT OF PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES TO NON-TRAWL GEAR, THE CDQ PROGRAM, AMENDMENT 80, AND THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTORS PSC species and area 1 Total PSC Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI .................. Herring (mt) BSAI ................................ Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 .......... C. opilio (animals) COBLZ ................... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1 ........... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2 ........... Non-trawl PSC 3,515 2,723 32,000 4,350,000 830,000 2,520,000 CDQ PSQ reserve 2 710 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 315 n/a 3,424 465,450 88,810 269,640 Trawl PSC remaining after CDQ PSQ n/a n/a 28,576 3,884,550 741,190 2,250,360 Amendment 80 sector 3 BSAI trawl limited access sector 1,745 n/a 14,282 1,909,256 312,115 532,660 745 n/a 8,739 1,248,494 348,285 1,053,394 BSAI PSC limits not allocated 2 n/a n/a 5,555 726,799 80,790 664,306 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of zones. PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit. 3 The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits for crab below the total PSC limit. These reductions are not apportioned to other gear types or sectors. 2 The TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 HERRING AND RED KING CRAB SAVINGS SUBAREA PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES FOR ALL TRAWL SECTORS Herring (mt) BSAI Fishery categories Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 Yellowfin sole ....................................................................................................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/Alaska plaice/other flatfish 1 .......................................................................................... Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish ................................................................. Rockfish ............................................................................................................................................................... Pacific cod ........................................................................................................................................................... Midwater trawl pollock ......................................................................................................................................... Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 2 3 .............................................................................................................. 2022 Red king crab savings subarea non-pelagic trawl gear 4 .......................................................................... 2023 Red king crab savings subarea non-pelagic trawl gear 5 .......................................................................... 118 58 8 8 14 2,472 45 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 8,000 Total trawl PSC ............................................................................................................................................ 2,723 32,000 1 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 2 Pollock other than midwater trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and ‘‘other species’’ fishery category. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and octopuses. 4 Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B) establishes criteria under which an annual red king crab bycatch limit must be specified for the Red King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS) if the State has established a GHL fishery for red king crab in the Bristol Bay area in the previous year. Based on the final 2021 NMFS trawl survey data for the Bristol Bay red king crab stock, the State of Alaska closed the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery for the 2021/2022 crab season. NMFS and the Council will not specify the red king crab bycatch limit for the RKCSS in 2022, and pursuant to § 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(1) directed fishing for groundfish is prohibited for vessels using non-pelagic trawl gear in the RKCSS for 2022. 5 If the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery remains closed in the 2022/2023 crab season, the RKCSS specification will be zero. If the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery is open in the 2022/2023 crab season, NMFS, after consultation with the Council, will specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the RKCSS, which is limited by regulation to up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (§ 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)). Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. TABLE 10—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTOR jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Prohibited species and area 1 BSAI trawl limited access sector fisheries Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Yellowfin sole ................................................................................. Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 2. Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish. Rockfish April 15–December 31 .................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 C. opilio (animals) COBLZ C. bairdi (animals) Zone 1 Zone 2 150 7,700 1,192,179 293,234 1,005,879 4 .......................... 1,006 .................... 849 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 68620 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 10—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTOR—Continued Prohibited species and area 1 BSAI trawl limited access sector fisheries Red king crab (animals) Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Zone 1 C. opilio (animals) COBLZ C. bairdi (animals) Zone 1 Zone 2 Pacific cod ...................................................................................... Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 3 ........................................... 391 200 975 65 50,281 5,028 50,816 4,235 42,424 4,243 Total BSAI trawl limited access sector PSC .......................... 745 8,739 1,248,494 348,285 1,053,394 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas and zones. flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and octopuses. Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. 2 ‘‘Other TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR NON-TRAWL FISHERIES Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Catcher vessel Seasons Pacific cod ....................................................... Non-Pacific cod non-trawl-Total ...................... Groundfish pot and jig .................................... Sablefish hook-and-line .................................. Annual Pacific cod ......................................... January 1–June 10 ................................. June 10–August 15 ................................. August 15–December 31 ........................ May 1–December 31 .............................. n/a .................................................................. n/a .................................................................. 648 388 162 98 n/a n/a n/a 13 9 2 2 n/a n/a n/a 661 n/a n/a n/a 49 Exempt. Exempt. Total for all non-trawl PSC ...................... n/a .................................................................. n/a n/a 710 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Catcher/ processor Non-trawl fisheries To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery’s halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental catch rates are based on observers’ estimates of halibut incidental catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific information available in conjunction with the annual BSAI stock assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to the annual BSAI groundfish SAFE report. In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 the Council’s directive. An interagency halibut working group (International Pacific Halibut Commission, Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the Plan Team, SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology is included in the BSAI proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87863, December 6, 2016), and the comprehensive discussion of the working group’s statistical methodology is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR working group’s revised methodology is intended to improve estimation accuracy, transparency, and transferability used for calculating DMRs. The working group will continue to consider improvements to the methodology used to calculate halibut mortality, including potential changes to the reference period (the period of data used for calculating the DMRs). Future DMRs may change based on additional years of observer sampling, which could provide more recent and accurate data and which could improve the accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The methodology will continue to ensure that NMFS is using PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 All non-trawl DMRs that more accurately reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different sectors of their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors to respond with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, the DMR for that sector. In October 2021, the Council recommended halibut DMRs derived from the revised methodology for the proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs. The proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs use an updated 2-year reference period. Comparing the proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs to the final DMRs from the 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications, the DMR for pelagic trawl gear remained at 100 percent, the DMR for motherships and CPs using non-pelagic trawl gear remained at 84 percent, the DMR for CVs using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 62 percent from 59 percent, the DMR for CPs using hook-and-line gear increased to 10 percent from 9 percent, the DMR for CVs using hookand-line gear increased to 10 percent from 9 percent, and the DMR for pot gear increased to 33 percent from 32 percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs. E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules 68621 TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 PACIFIC HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES (DMR) FOR THE BSAI Halibut discard mortality rate percent) Gear Sector Pelagic trawl ............................................................................ Non-pelagic trawl ..................................................................... Non-pelagic trawl ..................................................................... Hook-and-line ........................................................................... Hook-and-line ........................................................................... Pot ............................................................................................ All ............................................................................................. Mothership and catcher/processor .......................................... Catcher vessel ......................................................................... Catcher vessel ......................................................................... Catcher/processor ................................................................... All ............................................................................................. Listed AFA CP Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA CPs to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA fishery and from fishery cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are set out as sideboard limits on catch. On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA CPs from directed fishing for groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits (see § 679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 54 to 50 CFR part 679). NMFS proposes to exempt AFA CPs from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit pursuant to § 679.64(a)(1)(v) because the proposed 2022 and 2023 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to 50 CFR part 679 establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for halibut and crab caught by listed AFA CPs. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). PSC species listed in Table 13 that are caught 100 84 62 10 10 33 by listed AFA CPs participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2022 and 2023 PSC sideboard limits for the listed AFA CPs. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA CPs once a proposed 2022 or 2023 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 13 is reached. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC by listed AFA CPs while fishing for pollock will accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/‘‘other species’’ fishery categories, according to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv). TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 BSAI AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT LISTED CATCHER/PROCESSOR PROHIBITED SPECIES SIDEBOARD LIMITS Ratio of PSC to total PSC PSC species and area 1 BSAI Halibut mortality ............................................................................................ Red king crab Zone 1 ............................................................................................ C. opilio (COBLZ) .................................................................................................. C. bairdi Zone 1 ..................................................................................................... C. bairdi Zone 2 ..................................................................................................... 1 Refer Proposed 2022 and 2023 PSC available to trawl vessels after subtraction of PSQ 2 n/a 0.007 0.153 0.140 0.050 n/a 28,576 3,884,550 741,190 2,250,360 Proposed 2022 and 2023 CP sideboard limit 2 286 200 594,336 103,767 112,518 to § 679.2 for definitions of areas and zones. amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 2 Halibut jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 AFA CV Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of AFA CVs to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the pollock directed fishery. On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 non-exempt AFA CVs from directed fishing for a majority of the groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits (see § 679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 55 to 50 CFR part 679). The remainder of the sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs are proposed in Table 14. Section 679.64(b)(3) and (b)(4) establish formulas for setting AFA CV groundfish and halibut and crab PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). NMFS proposes to exempt AFA CVs from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit pursuant to § 679.64(b)(6) because the proposed 2022 and 2023 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Table 14 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 AFA CV sideboard limits. E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 68622 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 BSAI PACIFIC COD SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSELS (CVS) [Amounts are in metric tons] Ratio of 1997 AFA CV catch to TAC Fishery by area/gear/season BSAI ................................................................................................................................... Trawl gear CV .................................................................................................................... Jan 20–Apr 1 .............................................................................................................. Apr 1–Jun 10 .............................................................................................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ............................................................................................................. 2022 and 2023 initial TAC n/a n/a 0.8609 0.8609 0.8609 n/a n/a 15,896 2,363 3,222 2022 and 2023 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits n/a n/a 13,685 2,034 2,774 Note: As proposed, § 679.64(b)(6) would exempt AFA CVs from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the proposed 2022 and 2023 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 15 that are caught by AFA CVs participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the 2022 and 2023 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA CVs. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA CVs once a proposed 2022 and 2023 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 15 is reached. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC by AFA CVs while fishing for pollock will accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/‘‘other species’’ fishery categories under § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv). TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE BSAI 1 PSC species and area 1 Target fishery Halibut .................................................... Red king crab Zone 1 ............................ C. opilio COBLZ ..................................... C. bairdi Zone 1 ..................................... C. bairdi Zone 2 ..................................... category 2 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit ratio Pacific cod trawl .................................... Pacific cod hook-and-line or pot ........... Yellowfin sole total ................................ Rock sole/flathead sole/Alaska plaice/ other flatfish 4. Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/ Kamchatka flounder/sablefish. Rockfish ................................................. Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 5 .. n/a ......................................................... n/a ......................................................... n/a ......................................................... n/a ......................................................... Proposed 2022 and 2023 PSC limit after subtraction of PSQ reserves 3 Proposed 2022 and 2023 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit 3 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 887 2 101 228 n/a n/a .............................. n/a n/a 0.2990 0.1680 0.3300 0.1860 n/a n/a 28,576 3,884,550 741,190 2,250,360 2 5 8,544 652,604 244,593 418,567 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas and zones. fishery categories are defined at § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv). amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 4 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 5 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and octopuses. 2 Target 3 Halibut jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Classification NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment. This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. NMFS prepared an EIS for the Alaska groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies (see ADDRESSES) and made it available to the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the ROD for the Final EIS. A SIR is being prepared for the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications to provide a subsequent assessment of the action and to address the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (40 CFR 1501.11(b); § 1502.9(d)(1)). Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and annual SIRs for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental, social, and economic consequences of the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 resources in the action area. Based on the analysis in the Final EIS, NMFS concluded that the preferred alternative (Alternative 2) provides the best balance among relevant environmental, social, and economic considerations and allows for continued management of the groundfish fisheries based on the most recent, best scientific information. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis This Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was prepared for this proposed rule, as required by Section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 603), to describe the E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. The IRFA describes the action; the reasons why this proposed rule is proposed; the objectives and legal basis for this proposed rule; the estimated number and description of directly regulated small entities to which this proposed rule would apply; the recordkeeping, reporting, and other compliance requirements of this proposed rule; and the relevant Federal rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this proposed rule. The IRFA also describes significant alternatives to this proposed rule that would accomplish the stated objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and any other applicable statutes, and that would minimize any significant economic impact of this proposed rule on small entities. The description of the proposed action, its purpose, and the legal basis are explained earlier in the preamble and are not repeated here. For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. A shoreside processor primarily involved in seafood processing (NAICS code 311710) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual employment, counting all individuals employed on a full-time, part-time, or other basis, not in excess of 750 employees for all its affiliated operations worldwide. Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by This Proposed Rule The entities directly regulated by the groundfish harvest specifications include: (a) Entities operating vessels with groundfish Federal fisheries permits (FFPs) catching FMP groundfish in Federal waters (including those receiving direction allocations of groundfish); (b) all entities operating vessels, regardless of whether they hold groundfish FFPs, catching FMP groundfish in the state-waters parallel fisheries; and (c) all entities operating vessels fishing for halibut inside three miles of the shore (whether or not they have FFPs). In 2020 (the most recent VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 year of complete data), there were 288 individual CVs and CPs with gross revenues less than or equal to $11 million as well as six CDQ groups. This estimate does not account for corporate affiliations among vessels, and for cooperative affiliations among fishing entities, since some of the fishing vessels operating in the BSAI are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization Program cooperatives. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA because the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members exceed the $11 million threshold. After accounting for membership in these cooperatives, there are an estimated 155 small CV and 4 small CP entities remaining in the BSAI groundfish sector. However, the estimate of these 155 CVs may be an overstatement of the number of small entities. This latter group of vessels had average gross revenues that varied by gear type. Average gross revenues for hook-and-line CVs, pot gear CVs, trawl gear CVs, hook-and-line CPs, and pot gear CPs are estimated to be $530,000, $1.1 million, $2.8 million, $6.6 million, and $3.1 million, respectively. Description of Significant Alternatives That Minimize Adverse Impacts on Small Entities The action under consideration is the proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the BSAI. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2022 and 2023 fishing years and is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the MagnusonStevens Act. The establishment of the proposed harvest specifications is governed by the Council’s harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the BSAI. This strategy was selected from among five alternatives, with the preferred alternative harvest strategy being one in which the TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC. Under the preferred harvest strategy, TACs are set to a level that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the harvest strategy produces may vary from year to year, the methodology used for the preferred harvest strategy remains constant. The TACs associated with preferred harvest strategy are those recommended by the Council in October 2021. OFLs PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 68623 and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council’s Plan Team in September 2021, and reviewed by the Council’s SSC in October 2021. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. The sum of all TACs remains within the OY for the BSAI consistent with § 679.20(a)(1)(i)(A). Because setting all TACs equal to ABCs would cause the sum of TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt, TACs for some species or species groups are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan Team and the SSC. The proposed 2022 and 2023 OFLs and ABCs are based on the best available biological information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised technical methods to calculate stock biomass. The proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information. The proposed 2022 and 2023 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2020 SAFE report, which is the most recent, completed SAFE report. Under this action, the proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. The proposed TACs are within the range of proposed ABCs recommended by the SSC and do not exceed the biological limits recommended by the SSC (the ABCs and overfishing levels). For some species and species groups in the BSAI, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, proposed TACs equal to proposed ABCs, which is intended to maximize harvest opportunities in the BSAI. However, NMFS cannot set TACs for all species in the BSAI equal to their ABCs due to the constraining OY limit of two million mt. For this reason, some proposed TACs are less than the proposed ABCs. The specific reductions are reviewed and recommended by the Council’s AP, and the Council in turn adopted the AP’s TAC recommendations for the proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs. Based upon the best available scientific data, and in consideration of the Council’s objectives of this action, it appears that there are no significant alternatives to the proposed rule that have the potential to accomplish the stated objectives of the MagnusonStevens Act and any other applicable statutes and that have the potential to minimize any significant adverse economic impact of the proposed rule E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1 68624 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 230 / Friday, December 3, 2021 / Proposed Rules jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 on small entities. This action is economically beneficial to entities operating in the BSAI, including small entities. The action proposes TACs for commercially-valuable species in the BSAI and allows for the continued prosecution of the fishery, thereby creating the opportunity for fishery revenue. After public process during which the Council solicited input from stakeholders, the Council concluded that the proposed harvest specifications would best accomplish the stated objectives articulated in the preamble for this proposed rule, and in applicable statutes, and would minimize to the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 02, 2021 Jkt 256001 extent practicable adverse economic impacts on the universe of directly regulated small entities. This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal rules. This proposed rule contains no information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered or threatened species resulting from fishing activities conducted under these harvest specifications are discussed in the Final PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 EIS and its accompanying annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105–277; Pub. L. 106– 31; Pub. L. 106–554; Pub. L. 108–199; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 109–241; Pub. L. 109– 479. Dated: November 29, 2021. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–26180 Filed 12–1–21; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\03DEP1.SGM 03DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 230 (Friday, December 3, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 68608-68624]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-26180]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No.: 21123-0243; RTID 0648-XY119]


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2022 and 2023 Harvest Specifications for 
Groundfish

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

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

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the 
groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) 
management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits 
for groundfish during the 2022 and 2023 fishing years and to accomplish 
the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish 
of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). The 2022 
harvest specifications supersede those previously set in the final 2021 
and 2022 harvest specifications, and the 2023 harvest specifications 
will be superseded in early 2023 when the final 2023 and 2024 harvest 
specifications are published. The intended effect of this action is to 
conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI in accordance 
with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES: Comments must be received by January 3, 2022.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2020-0141, by 
either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and enter 211123-0243 in the Search box. Click on 
the ``Comment'' icon, complete the required fields and enter or attach 
your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Records Office. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 
99802-1668.
    Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by 
any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after 
the comment period ends. All comments received are a part of the public 
record, and NMFS will post the comments for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, 
or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender 
is publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/
A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
    Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision 
(ROD) for the Final EIS, and the annual Supplementary Information 
Reports (SIRs) to the Final EIS prepared for this action are available 
from https://www.regulations.gov. An updated 2022 SIR for the final 
2022 and 2023 harvest specifications will be available from the same 
source. The final 2020 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) 
report for the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2020, 
is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council 
(Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501-2252, 
phone 907-271-2809, or from the Council's website at https://www.npfmc.org/. The 2021 SAFE report for the BSAI will be available 
from the same source.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 
implement the FMP and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The 
Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it, under the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear 
at 50 CFR part 600.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require that NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, specify annually the total allowable 
catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum of TACs for all 
groundfish species in the BSAI must be within the optimum yield (OY) 
range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see Sec.  
679.20(a)(1)(i)(A)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires that NMFS 
publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal Register and 
solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and apportionments 
thereof; prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances; prohibited species 
quota (PSQ) reserves established by Sec.  679.21; seasonal allowances 
of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC; American Fisheries Act 
allocations; Amendment 80 allocations; Community Development Quota 
(CDQ) reserve amounts established by Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii); and 
acceptable biological catch (ABC) surpluses and reserves for CDQ groups 
and Amendment 80 cooperatives for flathead sole, rock sole, and 
yellowfin sole. The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 
1 through 15 of this action satisfy these requirements.
    Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2022 and 2023 
harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within 
the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its 
December 2021 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 
2022 SIR to the Final EIS that assesses the need to prepare a 
Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information 
presented in the final 2021 SAFE report prepared for the 2022 and 2023 
groundfish fisheries.

[[Page 68609]]

Other Actions Affecting or Potentially Affecting the 2022 and 2023 
Harvest Specifications

State of Alaska Guideline Harvest Levels

    For 2022 and 2023, the Board of Fisheries (BOF) for the State of 
Alaska (State) established the guideline harvest level (GHL) for 
vessels using pot gear in State waters in the Bering Sea subarea (BS). 
The 2021 BS GHL was set at 10 percent of the 2021 BS ABC (86 FR 11449, 
February 25, 2021). The State's pot gear BS GHL will increase one 
percent annually up to 15 percent of the BS ABC, if at least 90 percent 
of the GHL is harvested by November 15 of the preceding year. In 2021, 
90 percent of the GHL was harvested by November 15, 2021, which 
triggers a 1 percent increase in the GHL in 2022 and results in a 2022 
GHL of 11 percent of the proposed Pacific cod BS ABC. If at least 90 
percent of the 2022 BS GHL is not harvested by November 15, 2022, then 
the 2023 BS GHL will remain at the same percent (11 percent) as the 
2022 BS GHL. If 90 percent of the 2022 BS GHL is harvested by November 
15, 2022, then the 2023 BS GHL will increase by 1 percent and the 2023 
BS TAC will be set to account for the increased BS GHL. Also, for 2022 
and 2023, the BOF established an additional GHL for vessels using jig 
gear in State waters in the BS equal to 45 mt of Pacific cod. The 
Council and its BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team), Scientific and 
Statistical Committee (SSC), and Advisory Panel (AP) recommended that 
the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the BS 
not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations for Pacific cod in the BS. 
Accordingly, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, that the 2022 
and 2023 Pacific cod TACs in the BS account for the State's GHLs for 
Pacific cod caught in State waters.
    For 2022 and 2023, the BOF for the State established the GHL in 
State waters in the Aleutian Islands subarea (AI). In 2021, 90 percent 
of the GHL has been harvested by November 15, 2021, and results in a 
2022 GHL of 39 percent of the proposed Pacific cod AI ABC. The AI GHL 
may not exceed 39 percent of the AI ABC or 15 million pounds (6,804 
mt). In 2022, 39 percent of the proposed 2022 and 2023 AI ABC is 8,034 
mt, which exceeds the AI GHL limit of 6,804 mt. The Council and its 
Plan Team, SSC, and AP recommended that the sum of all State and 
Federal water Pacific cod removals from the AI not exceed the proposed 
ABC recommendations for Pacific cod in the AI. Accordingly, the Council 
recommended, and NMFS proposes, that the 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs 
in the AI account for the State's GHL of 6,804 mt for Pacific cod 
caught in State waters.

Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications

    In October 2021, the Council's SSC, its AP, and the Council 
reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the 
condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Plan Team compiled and 
presented this information in the final 2020 SAFE report for the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries, dated November 2020 (see ADDRESSES). The final 
2021 SAFE report will be available from the same source.
    The proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications are based on the 
final 2022 harvest specifications published in February 2021 (86 FR 
11449, February 25, 2021), which were set after consideration of the 
most recent 2020 SAFE report, and are based on the initial survey data 
that were presented at the September 2021 Plan Team meeting. The 
proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications in this action are 
subject to change in the final harvest specifications to be published 
by NMFS following the Council's December 2021 meeting.
    In November 2021, the Plan Team will update the 2020 SAFE report to 
include new information collected during 2021, such as NMFS stock 
surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team will 
compile this information and present the draft 2021 SAFE report at the 
December 2021 Council meeting. At that meeting, the SSC and the Council 
will review the 2021 SAFE report, and the Council will approve the 2021 
SAFE report. The Council will consider information in the 2021 SAFE 
report, recommendations from the November 2021 Plan Team meeting and 
December 2021 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant 
written comments in making its recommendations for the final 2022 and 
2023 harvest specifications.

Potential Changes Between Proposed and Final Specifications

    In previous years, the most significant changes (relative to the 
amount of assessed tonnage of fish) to the Overfishing Levels (OFLs) 
and ABCs from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have 
been based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys. These surveys provide 
updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and inform 
changes to the models or the models' results used for producing stock 
assessments. Any changes to models used in stock assessments will be 
recommended by the Plan Team in November 2021, reviewed by the SSC in 
December 2021, and then included in the final 2021 SAFE report. Model 
changes can result in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs. The final 
2021 SAFE report will include the most recent information, such as 
catch data.
    The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not 
expected to vary greatly from these proposed harvest specification 
amounts. If the 2021 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend 
is increasing for a species, then the final 2022 and 2023 harvest 
specifications may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest 
specifications. Conversely, if the 2021 SAFE report indicates that the 
stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2022 
and 2023 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the 
proposed harvest specifications. In addition to changes driven by 
biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs 
exceeding 2 million mt. Since the regulations require TACs to be set to 
an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to 
recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan 
Team and the SSC, if setting all TACs equal to ABCs would cause the sum 
of TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt. Generally, total ABCs greatly 
exceed 2 million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. For both 
2022 and 2023, NMFS anticipates that the sum of the final ABCs will 
exceed 2 million mt. NMFS expects that the final TACs for the BSAI for 
both 2022 and 2023 will equal 2 million mt each year.
    The proposed 2022 and 2023 OFLs and ABCs are based on the best 
available biological and scientific information, including projected 
biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, 
and revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP 
specifies a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the 
level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 
represents the highest level of information quality available, while 
Tier 6 represents the lowest. The proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs are based 
on the best available biological and socioeconomic information.
    In October 2021, the SSC adopted the proposed 2022 and 2023 OFLs 
and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish. The Council 
adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations. The OFL and ABC amounts 
are unchanged from the final 2022 harvest specifications published in 
the Federal Register on February 25,

[[Page 68610]]

2021 (86 FR 11449). The sum of the proposed 2022 and 2023 ABCs for all 
assessed groundfish is 2,682,318 mt. The sum of the proposed TACs is 
2,000,000 mt.

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs that are equal 
to the proposed ABCs for 2022 and 2023 BS sablefish, Central AI Atka 
mackerel, BS and Eastern AI Atka mackerel, BS Pacific ocean perch, 
Central AI Pacific ocean perch, Eastern AI Pacific ocean perch, Central 
AI and Western AI blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, and AI ``other 
rockfish.'' The Council recommended proposed TACs less than the 
respective proposed ABCs for all other species. Section 
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 
mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof 
pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are 
set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY.
    The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change 
pending the completion of the final 2021 SAFE report, public comment, 
and the Council's recommendations for the final 2022 and 2023 harvest 
specifications during its December 2021 meeting. These proposed amounts 
are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as 
described in the 2020 SAFE report. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest 
amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. The 
proposed TACs have been adjusted for other biological information and 
socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the entire TAC 
within the required OY range. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, 
the Council could recommend adjusting the final TACs ``if warranted on 
the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or 
socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum 
of the TACs to fall within the OY range.'' Table 1 lists the proposed 
2022 and 2023 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for 
groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts 
among fisheries and seasons is discussed below.

  Table 1--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Overfishing Level (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Total Allowable Catch (TAC), Initial Tac (ITAC), and CDQ
                                                    Reserve Allocation of Groundfish in the BSAI \1\
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                              Proposed 2022 and 2023
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Species                       Area                                                                                            Nonspecified
                                                                OFL             ABC             TAC          ITAC \2\       CDQ \3\ \4\      reserves
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \4\.....................  BS....................       2,366,000       1,484,000       1,400,000       1,260,000         140,000  ..............
                                  AI....................          61,308          50,789          19,000          17,100           1,900  ..............
                                  Bogoslof..............         113,479          85,109             100             100  ..............  ..............
Pacific cod \5\.................  BS....................         128,340         106,852          95,053          84,882          10,171  ..............
                                  AI....................          27,400          20,600          13,796          12,320           1,476  ..............
Sablefish.......................  Alaska-wide...........          70,710          36,995             n/a             n/a             n/a  ..............
                                  BS....................             n/a           4,863           4,863           2,067             182           2,614
                                  AI....................             n/a           6,860           5,061           1,075              95           3,891
Yellowfin sole..................  BSAI..................         374,982         344,140         200,000         178,600          21,400  ..............
Greenland turbot................  BSAI..................           7,181           6,139           6,025           5,121             n/a  ..............
                                  BS....................             n/a           5,175           5,125           4,356             548             220
                                  AI....................             n/a             964             900             765  ..............             135
Arrowtooth flounder.............  BSAI..................          94,368          80,323          15,000          12,750           1,605             645
Kamchatka flounder..............  BSAI..................          10,843           9,163           8,982           7,635  ..............           1,347
Rock sole \6\...................  BSAI..................         213,783         206,605          54,500          48,669           5,832  ..............
Flathead sole \7\...............  BSAI..................          77,763          64,119          25,000          22,325           2,675  ..............
Alaska plaice...................  BSAI..................          36,928          30,815          22,500          19,125  ..............           3,375
Other flatfish \8\..............  BSAI..................          22,919          17,189           6,500           5,525  ..............             975
Pacific Ocean perch.............  BSAI..................          42,384          35,503          34,758          30,596             n/a  ..............
                                  BS....................             n/a          10,298          10,298           8,753  ..............           1,545
                                  EAI...................             n/a           8,041           8,041           7,181             860  ..............
                                  CAI...................             n/a           5,919           5,919           5,286             633  ..............
                                  WAI...................             n/a          11,245          10,500           9,377           1,124  ..............
Northern rockfish...............  BSAI..................          18,221          14,984          13,000          11,050  ..............           1,950
Blackspotted/Rougheye rockfish    BSAI..................             595             500             326             277  ..............              49
 \9\.
                                  BS/EAI................             n/a             324             150             128  ..............              23
                                  CAI/WAI...............             n/a             176             176             150  ..............              26
Shortraker rockfish.............  BSAI..................             722             541             225             191  ..............              34
Other rockfish \10\.............  BSAI..................           1,751           1,313             694             590  ..............             104
                                  BS....................             n/a             919             300             255  ..............              45
                                  AI....................             n/a             394             394             335  ..............              59
Atka mackerel...................  BSAI..................          79,660          68,220          57,717          51,541           6,176  ..............
                                  EAI/BS................             n/a          23,880          23,880          21,325           2,555  ..............
                                  CAI...................             n/a          14,330          14,330          12,797           1,533  ..............
                                  WAI...................             n/a          30,010          19,507          17,420           2,087  ..............
Skates..........................  BSAI..................          47,372          39,598          16,000          13,600  ..............           2,400
Sharks..........................  BSAI..................             689             517             200             170  ..............              30
Octopuses.......................  BSAI..................           4,769           3,576             700             595  ..............             105
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 68611]]

 
    Total.......................  ......................       3,802,167       2,707,590       2,000,000       1,785,904         194,677          19,419
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these
  harvest specifications, the Bering Sea subarea (BS) includes the Bogoslof District.
\2\ Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead
  sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a nonspecified reserve.
  The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after subtraction of the reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80 species, ITAC is the non-CDQ
  allocation of TAC (see footnote 3 and 4).
\3\ For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 10.7
  percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC
  allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea
  Greenland turbot and BSAI arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). The 2022 hook-and-
  line or pot gear portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications. Aleutian
  Islands Greenland turbot, ``other flatfish,'' Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker
  rockfish, blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, ``other rockfish,'' skates, sharks, and octopuses are not allocated to the CDQ Program.
\4\ Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual BS pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second
  for the incidental catch allowance (4 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: Inshore-50 percent; catcher/
  processor-40 percent; and motherships-10 percent. Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual Aleutian Islands (AI) pollock TAC, after
  subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,500 mt), is allocated to the
  Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery.
\5\ The proposed BS Pacific cod TAC is set to account for the 11 percent, plus 45 mt, of the BS ABC for the State of Alaska's (State) guideline harvest
  level in State waters of the BS. The proposed AI Pacific cod TAC is set to account for 39 percent of the AI ABC for the State guideline harvest level
  in State waters of the AI, unless the State guideline harvest level would exceed 15 million pounds (6,804 mt), in which case the TAC is set to account
  for the maximum authorized State guideline harvest level of 6,804 mt.
\6\``Rock sole'' includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole).
\7\``Flathead sole'' includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder).
\8\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole,
  Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.
\9\ ``Blackspotted/Rougheye rockfish'' includes Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted) and Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye).
\10\ ''Other rockfish'' includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, dark rockfish, northern rockfish, shortraker
  rockfish, and blackspotted/rougheye rockfish.
Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2 (BSAI = Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area, BS = Bering Sea subarea, AI =
  Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI = Eastern Aleutian district, CAI = Central Aleutian district, WAI = Western Aleutian district.)

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

    Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the 
TAC for each target species category (except for pollock, hook-and-line 
and pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species) in a 
nonspecified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that NMFS 
allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of 
sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve for each subarea. 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires that NMFS allocate 7.5 percent of 
the trawl gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of BS Greenland 
turbot and BSAI arrowtooth flounder TACs to the respective CDQ 
reserves. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires that NMFS allocate 10.7 
percent of the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, 
yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the 
respective CDQ reserves. Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) 
require allocation of 10 percent of the BS pollock TAC to the pollock 
CDQ directed fishing allowance (DFA). Sections 
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and 679.31(a) require 10 percent of the AI 
pollock TAC be allocated to the pollock CDQ DFA. The entire Bogoslof 
District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA pursuant to Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(ii) because the Bogoslof District is closed to directed 
fishing for pollock by regulation (Sec.  679.22(a)(7)(B)). With the 
exception of the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the 
regulations do not further apportion the CDQ reserves by gear.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock 
ICA of 4 percent of the BS pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent 
CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS's examination of the pollock 
incidentally retained and discarded catch, including the incidental 
catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2000 
through 2021. During this 22-year period, the pollock incidental catch 
ranged from a low of 2.2 percent in 2006 to a high of 4.6 percent in 
2014, with a 22-year average of 3 percent. Pursuant to Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 15 
percent or 2,500 mt of the AI pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 
percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS's examination of the 
pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ 
vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2021. 
During this 19-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from 
a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2014, with a 19-
year average of 9 percent.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 
3,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 4,000 mt of yellowfin 
sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 60 mt of 
Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern 
Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 20 mt of Western Aleutian 
District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka 
mackerel, and 800 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and BS Atka mackerel, 
after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserves. These ICAs are based 
on NMFS's examination of the incidental catch in other target fisheries 
from 2003 through 2021.

[[Page 68612]]

    The regulations do not designate the remainder of the nonspecified 
reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be 
apportioned to a target species that contributed to the nonspecified 
reserve during the year, provided that such apportionments are 
consistent with Sec.  679.20(a)(3) and do not result in overfishing 
(see Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i)).

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

    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that BS pollock TAC be 
apportioned as a DFA, after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ Program 
and 4 percent for the ICA, as follows: 50 percent to the inshore 
sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor (CP) sector, and 10 percent 
to the mothership sector. In the BS, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated 
to the A season (January 20 to June 10), and 55 percent of the DFA is 
allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (Sec. Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)(1) and 679.23(e)(2)). The AI directed pollock 
fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock 
TAC remaining in the AI after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 
percent), and 2,500 mt for the ICA (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)). In 
the AI, the total A season apportionment of the pollock TAC (including 
the AI directed fishery allocation, the CDQ DFA, and the ICA) may equal 
up to 40 percent of the ABC for AI pollock, and the remainder of the 
pollock TAC is allocated to the B season (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(3)). Table 2 lists these proposed 2022 and 2023 
amounts.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in 
the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In 
Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent 
of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit 
is no more than 15 percent of the AI pollock ABC. In Area 541, the A 
season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent of the AI 
pollock ABC.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) includes several specific 
requirements regarding BS pollock allocations. First, it requires that 
8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the CP sector be available for 
harvest by AFA catcher vessels (CVs) with CP sector endorsements, 
unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that 
allows the distribution of harvest among AFA CPs and AFA CVs in a 
manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA CPs not listed in the AFA 
are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock 
allocated to the CP sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 
allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 13, 14, and 15 list the AFA CP and 
CV harvesting sideboard limits. The BS inshore pollock cooperative and 
open access sector allocations are based on the submission of AFA 
inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each 
calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2022 
have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS therefore cannot calculate 
2022 allocations, NMFS has not included inshore cooperative tables in 
these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2022 AFA 
inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations on the 
Alaska Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheries-management-reports prior to the 
start of the fishing year on January 1, 2022, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and 
harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The 
harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at Sec.  
679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the annual 
pollock DFA before 12:00 noon, April 1, as provided in Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be 
apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector's allocated 
percentage of the DFA.

  Table 2--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Allocations of Pollock TACs to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ
                                      Directed Fishing Allowances (DFA) \1\
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           A season \1\            B season \1\
                                                   2022 and 2023 -----------------------------------------------
                 Area and sector                    Allocations                     SCA harvest
                                                                   A season DFA      limit \2\     B season DFA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea subarea TAC..........................       1,400,000             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................         140,000          63,000          39,200          77,000
ICA \1\.........................................          50,400             n/a             n/a             n/a
Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ)..................       1,209,600         544,320         338,688         665,280
AFA Inshore.....................................         604,800         272,160         169,344         332,640
AFA Catcher/Processors \3\......................         483,840         217,728         135,475         266,112
    Catch by CPs................................         442,714         199,221             n/a         243,492
    Catch by CVs \3\............................          41,126          18,507             n/a          22,620
        Unlisted CP Limit \4\...................           2,419           1,089             n/a           1,331
AFA Motherships.................................         120,960          54,432          33,869          66,528
Excessive Harvesting Limit \5\..................         211,680             n/a             n/a             n/a
Excessive Processing Limit \6\..................         362,880             n/a             n/a             n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea ABC....................          50,789             n/a             n/a             n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea TAC....................          19,000             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................           1,900             760             n/a           1,140
ICA.............................................           2,500           1,250             n/a           1,250
Aleut Corporation...............................          14,600          14,600             n/a  ..............
Area harvest limit \7\..........................             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a
    541.........................................          15,237             n/a             n/a             n/a
    542.........................................           7,618             n/a             n/a             n/a
    543.........................................           2,539             n/a             n/a             n/a

[[Page 68613]]

 
Bogoslof District ICA \8\.......................             100             n/a             n/a             n/a
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ
  DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (4 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: Inshore sector-50 percent, catcher/
  processor sector (CPs)-40 percent, and mothership sector-10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45 percent of
  the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B
  season (June 10-November 1). Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) through (iii), the annual AI
  pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second for the ICA (2,400 mt), is
  allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is
  allocated up to 40 percent of the AI pollock ABC.
\2\ In the Bering Sea subarea, pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(C), no more than 28 percent of each sector's
  annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1.
\3\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed CPs shall be available
  for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels with a CP endorsement delivering to listed CPs, unless there is a
  CP sector cooperative for the year.
\4\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted CPs are limited to harvesting not more than
  0.5 percent of the C/P sector's allocation of pollock.
\5\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5
  percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
\6\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30
  percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
\7\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in
  Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent
  of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC.
\8\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.22(a)(7)(B), the Bogoslof District is closed to directed fishing for pollock. The
  amounts specified are for incidental catch only and are not apportioned by season or sector.

Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs

    Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the 
Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting 
the CDQ reserves, ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and 
non-trawl gear sectors, and the jig gear allocation (Table 3). The 
percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 
and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to 50 CFR 
part 679 and in Sec.  679.91. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 
2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka 
mackerel TAC may be allocated to vessels using jig gear. The percent of 
this allocation is recommended annually by the Council based on several 
criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear 
fleet. The Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, a 0.5 percent 
allocation of the Atka mackerel TAC in the Eastern Aleutian District 
and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2022 and 2023.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into 
two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first 
seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 
through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 
10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies 
Atka mackerel seasons to trawl CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and 
jig gear allocations are not apportioned by season.
    Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limit Atka mackerel 
catch within waters 0 nautical miles (nmi) to 20 nmi of Steller sea 
lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located west of 
178[deg] W longitude to no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in 
Areas 542 and 543, and equally divides the annual TAC between the A and 
B seasons as defined at Sec.  679.23(e)(3). Section 
679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires that the annual TAC in Area 543 will be 
no more than 65 percent of the ABC in Area 543. Section 
679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested Atka mackerel A 
season allowance that is added to the B season be prohibited from being 
harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nmi of Steller sea lion sites listed 
in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located in Areas 541, 542, and 543.
    Table 3 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 Atka mackerel season 
allowances, area allowances, and the sector allocations. One Amendment 
80 cooperative has formed for the 2022 fishing year. Because all 
Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2022. The 2023 
allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible 
participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 
2022. NMFS will post the 2023 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 
80 limited access sector allocations on the Alaska Region website at 
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on 
January 1, 2023, based on the harvest specifications effective on that 
date.

   Table 3--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch
                   Allowance (ICA), and Amendment 80 Allocations of the BSAI Atka Mackerel TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                              2022 and 2023 allocation by area
                                                                          --------------------------------------
                                                                             Eastern      Central      Western
                Sector \1\                        Season \2\ \3\ \4\         Aleutian     Aleutian     Aleutian
                                                                            District/     District     District
                                                                            Bering Sea      \5\          \5\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC.......................................  n/a..........................       23,880       14,330       19,507

[[Page 68614]]

 
CDQ reserve...............................  Total........................        2,555        1,533        2,087
                                            A............................        1,278          767        1,044
                                            Critical habitat \5\.........          n/a          460          626
                                            B............................        1,278          767        1,044
                                            Critical habitat \5\.........          n/a          460          626
non-CDQ TAC...............................  n/a..........................       21,325       12,797       17,420
ICA.......................................  Total........................          800           75           20
Jig \6\...................................  Total........................          103  ...........  ...........
BSAI trawl limited access.................  Total........................        2,042        1,272  ...........
                                            A............................        1,021          636  ...........
                                            Critical habitat \5\.........          n/a          382  ...........
                                            B............................        1,021          636  ...........
                                            Critical habitat \5\.........          n/a          382  ...........
Amendment 80 \7\..........................  Total........................       18,380       11,450       17,400
                                            A............................        9,190        5,725        8,700
                                            Critical habitat \5\.........          n/a        3,435        5,220
                                            B............................        9,190        5,725        8,700
                                            Critical habitat \5\.........          n/a        3,435        5,220
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs, and the
  jig gear allocation, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for
  Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR
  part 679 and Sec.   679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.
  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31).
\2\ Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel
  fishery.
\3\ The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season.
\4\ Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from
  January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31.
\5\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to
  be caught inside of Steller sea lion critical habitat; Sec.   679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the
  annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at Sec.   679.23(e)(3); and Sec.   679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2)
  requires that the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC in Area 543.
\6\ Sections 679.2 and 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering
  Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserves and ICAs. The proposed amount
  of this allocation is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.
\7\ The 2023 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access
  sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1,
  2022.

Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC

    The Council separated BS and AI subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for 
Pacific cod in 2014 (79 FR 12108, March 4, 2014). Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC 
to the CDQ Program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the 
respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific 
cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector 
allocations. If the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be reached in 
either the BS or the AI subareas, NMFS will prohibit directed fishing 
for non-CDQ Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iii).
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate to the non-CDQ sectors 
the combined BSAI Pacific cod TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for 
the CDQ Program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 
percent to hook-and-line or pot CVs less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length 
overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line CVs greater than or equal 
to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line CPs, 8.4 percent 
to pot CVs greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to 
pot CPs, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl CPs, 13.4 percent to the Amendment 80 
sector, and 22.1 percent to trawl CVs. The BSAI ICA for the hook-and-
line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of 
BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. 
For 2022 and 2023, the Regional Administrator proposes a BSAI ICA of 
400 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other 
fisheries.
    The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector 
is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and Sec.  679.91. One 
Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2022 fishing year. Because 
all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to 
the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 2022. The 2023 
allocations for Pacific cod between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible 
participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 
2022. NMFS will post the 2023 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 
80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 
2023, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date.
    The sector allocations of Pacific cod are apportioned into seasonal 
allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year 
(see Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(i)(B), 679.20 (a)(7)(iv)(A), and 
679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), 
any unused portion of a Pacific cod seasonal allowance for any sector, 
except the jig sector, will become available at the

[[Page 68615]]

beginning of that sector's next seasonal allowance.
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires that the Regional Administrator 
establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod 
abundance in Area 543 as determined by the annual stock assessment 
process. Based on the 2020 stock assessment, the Regional Administrator 
has preliminarily determined for 2022 and 2023 that the estimated 
amount of Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 is 15.7 percent of total AI 
abundance. NMFS will first subtract the State GHL Pacific cod amount 
from the AI Pacific cod ABC. Then NMFS will determine the harvest limit 
in Area 543 by multiplying the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in 
Area 543 (15.7 percent) by the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod. Based 
on these calculations, which rely on the 2020 stock assessment, the 
proposed Area 543 harvest limit is 2,166 mt. However, the final Area 
543 harvest limit could change if the Pacific cod abundance in Area 543 
changes based on the stock assessment in the final 2021 SAFE report.
    On March 21, 2019, the final rule adopting Amendment 113 to the FMP 
(81 FR 84434, November 23, 2016) was vacated by the U.S. District Court 
for the District of Columbia (Groundfish Forum v. Ross, No. 16-2495 
(D.D.C. March 21, 2019)), and the corresponding regulations 
implementing Amendment 113 are no longer in effect. Therefore, this 
proposed rule is not specifying amounts for the AI Pacific Cod Catcher 
Vessel Harvest Set-Aside Program (see Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(viii)).
    Table 4 lists the CDQ and non-CDQ seasonal allowances by gear based 
on the proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs; the sector allocations 
of Pacific cod; and the seasons set forth at Sec.  679.23(e)(5).

                       Table 4--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Sector Allocations and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI \1\ Pacific Cod TAC
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            2022 and 2023    2022 and 2023               2022 and 2023 seasonal apportionment
                  Sector                       Percent      share of gear   share of sector ------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             sector total        total                          Season                        Amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total Bering Sea TAC.....................             n/a           95,053              n/a  n/a........................................             n/a
Bering Sea CDQ...........................             n/a           10,171              n/a  See Sec.   679.20(a)(7)(i)(B)..............             n/a
Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC...................             n/a           84,882              n/a  n/a........................................             n/a
Total Aleutian Islands TAC...............             n/a           13,796              n/a  n/a........................................             n/a
Aleutian Islands CDQ.....................             n/a            1,476              n/a  See Sec.   679.20(a)(7)(i)(B)..............             n/a
Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC.............             n/a           12,320              n/a  n/a........................................             n/a
Western Aleutians Islands Limit..........             n/a            2,166              n/a  n/a........................................             n/a
Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC \1\...............           100.0           97,202              n/a  n/a........................................             n/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear.............            60.8           59,099              n/a  n/a........................................             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA \2\................             n/a              n/a              400  n/a........................................             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot sub-total..............             n/a           58,699              n/a  n/a........................................             n/a
Hook-and-line catcher/processors.........            48.7              n/a           47,017  Jan-1-Jun 10...............................          23,979
                                                                                             Jun 10-Dec 31..............................          23,038
Hook-and-line catcher vessels >=60 ft LOA             0.2              n/a              193  Jan 1-Jun 10...............................              98
                                                                                             Jun 10-Dec 31..............................              95
Pot catcher/processors...................             1.5              n/a            1,448  Jan 1-Jun 10...............................             739
                                                                                             Sept 1-Dec 31..............................             710
Pot catcher vessels >=60 ft LOA..........             8.4              n/a            8,110  Jan 1-Jun 10...............................           4,136
                                                                                             Sept-1-Dec 31..............................           3,974
Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA using hook-and-            2.0              n/a            1,931  n/a........................................             n/a
 line or pot gear.
Trawl catcher vessels....................            22.1           21,482              n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1...............................          15,896
                                                                                             Apr 1-Jun 10...............................           2,363
                                                                                             Jun 10-Nov 1...............................           3,222
AFA trawl catcher/processors.............             2.3            2,236              n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1...............................           1,677
                                                                                             Apr 1-Jun 10...............................             559
                                                                                             Jun 10-Nov 1...............................  ..............
Amendment 80.............................            13.4           13,025              n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1...............................           9,769
                                                                                             Apr 1-Jun 10...............................           3,256
                                                                                             Jun 10-Dec 31..............................  ..............
Jig......................................             1.4            1,361              n/a  Jan 1-Apr 30...............................             816
                                                                                             Apr 30-Aug 31..............................             272
                                                                                             Aug 31-Dec 31..............................             272
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The sector allocations and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, after subtraction of
  the reserve for the CDQ Program. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the BS or AI is or will be reached, then directed fishing will be prohibited for
  non-CDQ Pacific cod in that subarea, even if a BSAI allowance remains (Sec.   679.20(d)(1)(iii)).
\2\ The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot
  sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 400 mt based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Sablefish Gear Allocation

    Section 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of sablefish 
TAC for the BS and AI between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear. 
Gear allocations of the sablefish TAC for the BS are 50 percent for 
trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear 
allocations of the TAC for the AI are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 
percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) 
requires that NMFS apportion 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot 
gear allocation of sablefish TAC to the CDQ reserve for each subarea. 
Also, Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the 
trawl gear allocation of

[[Page 68616]]

sablefish TAC from the nonspecified reserve, established under Sec.  
679.20(b)(1)(i), be apportioned to the CDQ reserve. The Council 
recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be established biennially. 
The harvest specifications for the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish 
Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries are limited to the 2022 
fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted concurrently with 
the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries 
reduce the potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those 
fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries remain closed at the beginning 
of each fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the 
sablefish IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2022 
and 2023 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts.

                                   Table 5--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Gear Shares and CDQ Reserve of BSAI Sablefish TACs
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           2022 Share of                     2022 CDQ      2023 Share of                     2023 CDQ
            Subarea and gear              Percent of TAC        TAC        2022 ITAC \1\      reserve           TAC          2023 ITAC        reserve
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea:
    Trawl...............................              50           2,432           2,067             182           2,432           2,067             182
    Hook-and-line gear/pot \2\..........              50           2,432             n/a             486             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...........................             100           4,863           2,067             669           2,432           2,067             182
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aleutian Islands:
    Trawl...............................              25           1,265           1,075              95           1,265           1,075              95
    Hook-and-line gear/pot \2\..........              75           3,796             n/a             759             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...........................             100           5,061           1,075             854           1,265           1,075              95
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ For the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using trawl gear, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the nonspecified reserve (Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(i)).
  The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of this reserve. In the BS and AI, 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of TAC is
  assigned from the nonspecified reserve to the CDQ reserve (Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1)).
\2\ For the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants
  (Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B)). The Council recommended that specifications for the hook-and-line and pot gear sablefish IFQ fisheries be limited to one
  year.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

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

    Section 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI 
Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin 
sole TACs between the Amendment 80 sector and the BSAI trawl limited 
access sector, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserves and 
amounts for ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels 
using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean 
perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the 
Amendment 80 sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to 50 CFR part 
679 and in Sec.  679.91.
    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2022 fishing year. 
Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required for 
2022. The 2023 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 
80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2022. NMFS will post the 2023 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the 
Alaska Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2023, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date. Table 6 lists the proposed 2022 
and 2023 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead 
sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs.

    Table 6--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Community Development Quota (CDQ) Reserves, Incidental Catch Amounts (ICAS), and Amendment 80 Allocations of the
                            Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                  2022 and 2023 allocations
                                                                   -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                             Pacific ocean perch            Flathead sole    Rock sole    Yellowfin sole
                              Sector                               -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Eastern      Central      Western
                                                                      Aleutian     Aleutian     Aleutian         BSAI           BSAI           BSAI
                                                                      District     District     District
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC...............................................................        8,041        5,919       10,500           25,000       54,500          200,000
CDQ...............................................................          860          633        1,124            2,675        5,832           21,400
ICA...............................................................          100           60           10            3,000        6,000            4,000
BSAI trawl limited access sector..................................          708          523          187  ...............  ...........           34,782
Amendment 80 \1\..................................................        6,373        4,703        9,179           19,325       42,669          139,818
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The 2023 allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants
  apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2022.

    Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, 
and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for 
each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the 
ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational

[[Page 68617]]

variability, environmental conditions, and economic factors that may 
constrain the CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from 
achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may 
set the ABC reserve at or below the ABC surplus for each species, thus 
maintaining the TAC below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent 
of the ABC reserves will be allocated as CDQ ABC reserves for flathead 
sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. Section 679.31(b)(4) establishes 
the annual allocations of CDQ ABC reserves among the CDQ groups. The 
Amendment 80 ABC reserves are the ABC reserves minus the CDQ ABC 
reserves and are allocated to each Amendment 80 cooperative pursuant to 
Sec.  679.91(i)(2), which establishes each Amendment 80 cooperative ABC 
reserve to be the ratio of each cooperatives' quota share units and the 
total Amendment 80 quota share units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 
ABC reserve for each respective species. Table 7 lists the proposed 
2022 and 2023 ABC surplus and ABC reserves for BSAI flathead sole, rock 
sole, and yellowfin sole.

 Table 7--Proposed 2022 and 2023 ABC Surplus, ABC Reserves, Community Development Quota (CDQ) ABC Reserves, and
             Amendment 80 ABC Reserves in the BSAI for Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Flathead sole                     Yellowfin sole
                           Sector                                   \1\         Rock sole \1\         \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC........................................................            64,119         206,605            344,140
TAC........................................................            25,000          54,500            200,000
ABC surplus................................................            39,119         152,105            144,140
ABC reserve................................................            39,119         152,105            144,140
CDQ ABC reserve............................................             4,186          16,275             15,423
Amendment 80 ABC reserve...................................            34,933         135,830            128,717
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The 2023 allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not
  be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2022.

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

    Section 679.21(b), (e), (f), and (g) set forth the BSAI PSC limits. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(b)(1), the annual BSAI halibut PSC limits 
total 3,515 mt. Section 679.21(b)(1) allocates 315 mt of the halibut 
PSC limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program, 
1,745 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector, 745 mt 
of the halibut PSC limit for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, and 
710 mt of the halibut PSC limit for the BSAI non-trawl sector.
    Section 679.21(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B) authorize apportionment of the 
BSAI non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC allowances among six fishery 
categories, and Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B), (e)(3)(i)(B), and 
(e)(3)(iv) require apportionment of the BSAI trawl limited access 
sector's halibut and crab PSC limits into PSC allowances among seven 
fishery categories. Table 10 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances 
for the BSAI trawl limited access sector fisheries, and Table 11 lists 
the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the non-trawl fisheries.
    Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and 
NMFS proposes, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt 
from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consultation with 
the Council, NMFS proposes to exempt the pot gear fishery, the jig gear 
fishery, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories 
from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1) The 
pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS 
estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible 
because of the small size of the fishery and the selectivity of the 
gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries have low halibut 
bycatch mortality because the IFQ Program requires legal-size halibut 
to be retained by vessels using fixed gear if a halibut IFQ permit 
holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ 
for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the 
vessel is operating (Sec.  679.7(f)(11)).
    As of October 18, 2021, total groundfish catch for the pot gear 
fishery in the BSAI was 32,658 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch 
mortality of 7 mt. The 2021 jig gear fishery harvested about 20 mt of 
groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer 
coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on 
halibut bycatch in the jig gear fishery. As mentioned above, NMFS 
estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of 
the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut 
caught with jig gear and released.
    Under Sec.  679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of 
either 33,318, 45,000, 47,591, or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits 
among the AFA sectors, depending on past bycatch performance, on 
whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements (IPAs) are 
formed, and on whether NMFS determines it is a low Chinook salmon 
abundance year. NMFS will determine that it is a low Chinook salmon 
abundance year when abundance of Chinook salmon in western Alaska is 
less than or equal to 250,000 Chinook salmon. The State provides to 
NMFS an estimate of Chinook salmon abundance using the 3-System Index 
for western Alaska, based on the Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and Upper Yukon 
aggregate stock grouping.
    If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not 
exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6), and if it 
is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a 
portion of the 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no IPA is approved, or if 
the sector has exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  
679.21(f)(6), and if it is not a low abundance year, then NMFS will 
allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that 
sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). If an AFA sector 
participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance 
standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, then NMFS 
will allocate a portion of the 45,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that 
sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). If no IPA is 
approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under 
Sec.  679.21(f)(6), and if in a low abundance year, then NMFS will 
allocate a portion of the 33,318 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that 
sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D).

[[Page 68618]]

    NMFS has determined that 2021 was a low Chinook salmon abundance 
year, based on the State's estimate that Chinook salmon abundance in 
western Alaska is less than 250,000 Chinook salmon. Therefore, in 2022, 
the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 45,000 Chinook salmon, allocated to 
each sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). The AFA sector 
Chinook salmon allocations are also seasonally apportioned with 70 
percent of the allocation for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 
percent of the allocation for the B season pollock fishery (Sec. Sec.  
679.21(f)(3)(i) and 679.23(e)(2)). In 2022, the Chinook salmon bycatch 
performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6) is 33,318 Chinook salmon, 
allocated to each sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D). 
NMFS publishes the approved IPAs, allocations, and reports at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska.
    Section 679.21(g)(2)(i) specifies 700 fish as the 2022 and 2023 
Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI pollock fishery. Section 
679.21(g)(2)(ii) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI 
PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and allocates the remaining 647 
Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries.
    Section 679.21(f)(14)(i) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2022 and 2023 
non-Chinook salmon PSC limit for vessels using trawl gear from August 
15 through October 14 in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area (CVOA). 
Section 679.21(f)(14)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494 non-Chinook 
salmon, in the CVOA as the PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and 
allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA to the 
non-CDQ fisheries.
    PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on 
abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as 
of October 2021 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the 
Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, basing the proposed herring 
2022 and 2023 PSC limits and apportionments on the 2020 survey data. 
The Council will reconsider these amounts in December 2021. Section 
679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl gear PSC 
limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ 
Program.
    Based on the most recent (2021) survey data, the red king crab 
mature female abundance is estimated at 6.432 million red king crabs, 
and the effective spawning biomass is estimated at 20,862 million lbs 
(9,463 mt). Based on the criteria set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(i), the 
proposed 2022 and 2023 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl 
gear is 32,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female 
abundance estimate below 8.4 million red king crab.
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which 
NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red 
King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS) if the State has established a GHL 
fishery for red king crab in the Bristol Bay area in the previous year. 
The State's Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and NMFS have reviewed 
the final 2021 NMFS trawl survey data for the Bristol Bay red king crab 
stock. The stock is estimated to be below the regulatory threshold for 
opening a fishery. Therefore, the State did not establish a GHL for the 
Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, and the fishery will remain closed 
for the 2021/2022 crab season. Also, NMFS and the Council will not 
specify an amount of the red king crab bycatch limit, annually 
established under Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(i), for the RKCSS. Therefore, NMFS 
will close directed fishing for vessels using non-pelagic trawl gear in 
the RKCSS for 2022. NMFS and the Council will assess the RKCSS closure 
for 2023 if the State's ADF&G establishes a GHL for the 2022/2023 red 
king crab fishery in the Bristol Bay area.
    Based on the most recent (2021) survey data from the NMFS annual 
bottom trawl survey, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is 
estimated at 385 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at Sec.  
679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2022 and 2023 C. bairdi crab PSC limit 
for trawl gear is 830,000 animals in Zone 1, and 2,520,000 animals in 
Zone 2. The limit in Zone 1 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi 
(estimated at 385 million animals), which is over 270 million to 400 
million animals. The limit in Zone 2 is based on the abundance of C. 
bairdi (estimated at 385 million animals), which is over 290 million to 
400 million animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for trawl gear 
for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by 
the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in 
the C. opilio bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent 
of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs, unless a minimum 
or maximum PSC limit applies. Based on the most recent (2021) survey 
estimate of 1.42 billion animals, the calculated C. opilio crab PSC 
limit is 1,608,860 animals. Because 0.1133 percent multiplied by the 
total abundance is less than 4.5 million, the minimum PSC limit applies 
and the PSC limit will be 4.350 million animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring 
caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 
percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best 
estimate of 2022 and 2023 herring biomass is 272,281 mt. This amount 
was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on 
biomass for spawning aggregations. Therefore, the herring PSC limit 
proposed for 2022 and 2023 is 2,723 mt for all trawl gear as listed in 
Tables 8 and 9.
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires that PSQ reserves be subtracted 
from the total trawl PSC limits. The 2022 crab and halibut PSC limits 
assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are 
listed in Table 35 to 50 CFR part 679. The resulting proposed 
allocations of crab and halibut PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 
sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access sector are listed in Table 8. 
Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(i), 679.21(e)(3)(vi), and 679.91(d) 
through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC limits assigned to the 
Amendment 80 sector are then further allocated to Amendment 80 
cooperatives as cooperative quotas. Crab and halibut PSC cooperative 
quotas assigned to Amendment 80 cooperatives are not allocated to 
specific fishery categories.
    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2022 fishing year. 
Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no PSC 
limit allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required 
for 2022. The 2023 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2022. NMFS will post the 2023 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access sector allocations on the 
Alaska Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/sustainable-fisheries-alaska prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2023, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    Section 679.21(b)(2) and (e)(5) authorize NMFS, after consulting 
with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of halibut and 
crab PSC amounts for the BSAI non-trawl, BSAI trawl limited access, and 
Amendment 80 limited access sectors to maximize the ability of the 
fleet to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. 
The factors considered are (1) seasonal distribution

[[Page 68619]]

of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish 
species relative to prohibited species distribution, (3) prohibited 
species bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited 
species biomass and expected catches of target groundfish species, (4) 
expected variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected 
changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected start of 
fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal 
prohibited species apportionments on segments of the target groundfish 
industry. Based on this criteria, the Council recommended, and NMFS 
proposes, the seasonal PSC apportionments in Tables 10 and 11 to 
maximize harvest among gear types, fisheries, and seasons, while 
minimizing bycatch of PSC.

   Table 8--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Apportionment of Prohibited Species Catch Allowances to Non-Trawl Gear, the CDQ Program, Amendment 80, and the BSAI
                                                              Trawl Limited Access Sectors
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                     Trawl PSC                 BSAI trawl     BSAI PSC
                                                                           Non-trawl     CDQ PSQ     remaining    Amendment      limited     limits not
                  PSC species and area \1\                    Total PSC       PSC      reserve \2\   after CDQ    80 sector      access       allocated
                                                                                                        PSQ          \3\         sector          \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI................................        3,515          710          315          n/a        1,745           745           n/a
Herring (mt) BSAI..........................................        2,723          n/a          n/a          n/a          n/a           n/a           n/a
Red king crab (animals) Zone 1.............................       32,000          n/a        3,424       28,576       14,282         8,739         5,555
C. opilio (animals) COBLZ..................................    4,350,000          n/a      465,450    3,884,550    1,909,256     1,248,494       726,799
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1............................      830,000          n/a       88,810      741,190      312,115       348,285        80,790
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2............................    2,520,000          n/a      269,640    2,250,360      532,660     1,053,394       664,306
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of zones.
\2\ The PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit.
\3\ The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits for crab below the total PSC limit. These reductions are not apportioned to
  other gear types or sectors.


    Table 9--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Herring and Red King Crab Savings
    Subarea Prohibited Species Catch Allowances for All Trawl Sectors
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Red king crab
          Fishery categories              Herring (mt)    (animals) Zone
                                              BSAI              1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole........................              118              n/a
Rock sole/flathead sole/Alaska plaice/               58              n/a
 other flatfish \1\...................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/                 8              n/a
 Kamchatka flounder/sablefish.........
Rockfish..............................                8              n/a
Pacific cod...........................               14              n/a
Midwater trawl pollock................            2,472              n/a
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species                  45              n/a
 \2\ \3\..............................
2022 Red king crab savings subarea non-             n/a
 pelagic trawl gear \4\...............
2023 Red king crab savings subarea non-             n/a            8,000
 pelagic trawl gear \5\...............
                                       ---------------------------------
    Total trawl PSC...................            2,723           32,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species,
  except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth
  flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock
  sole, and yellowfin sole.
\2\ Pollock other than midwater trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and
  ``other species'' fishery category.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and
  octopuses.
\4\ Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B) establishes criteria under which an
  annual red king crab bycatch limit must be specified for the Red King
  Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS) if the State has established a GHL
  fishery for red king crab in the Bristol Bay area in the previous
  year. Based on the final 2021 NMFS trawl survey data for the Bristol
  Bay red king crab stock, the State of Alaska closed the Bristol Bay
  red king crab fishery for the 2021/2022 crab season. NMFS and the
  Council will not specify the red king crab bycatch limit for the RKCSS
  in 2022, and pursuant to Sec.   679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(1) directed
  fishing for groundfish is prohibited for vessels using non-pelagic
  trawl gear in the RKCSS for 2022.
\5\ If the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery remains closed in the 2022/
  2023 crab season, the RKCSS specification will be zero. If the Bristol
  Bay red king crab fishery is open in the 2022/2023 crab season, NMFS,
  after consultation with the Council, will specify an annual red king
  crab bycatch limit for the RKCSS, which is limited by regulation to up
  to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (Sec.
  679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)).
Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


 Table 10--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for the BSAI Trawl Limited Access Sector
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Prohibited species and area \1\
                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    BSAI trawl limited access sector                       Red king crab                   C. bairdi (animals)
                fisheries                     Halibut        (animals)      C. opilio  -------------------------
                                          mortality (mt) -----------------  (animals)
                                               BSAI            Zone 1         COBLZ        Zone 1       Zone 2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole..........................             150            7,700    1,192,179      293,234    1,005,879
Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish
 \2\....................................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/
 Kamchatka flounder/sablefish...........
Rockfish April 15-December 31...........               4  ...............        1,006  ...........          849

[[Page 68620]]

 
Pacific cod.............................             391              975       50,281       50,816       42,424
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species \3\.             200               65        5,028        4,235        4,243
                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total BSAI trawl limited access                  745            8,739    1,248,494      348,285    1,053,394
     sector PSC.........................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas and zones.
\2\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole,
  and yellowfin sole.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and octopuses.
Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


     Table 11--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Halibut Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for Non-Trawl Fisheries
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Catcher/
          Non-trawl fisheries                    Seasons             processor    Catcher vessel   All non-trawl
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod...........................  Annual Pacific cod......             648              13             661
                                           January 1-June 10....             388               9             n/a
                                           June 10-August 15....             162               2             n/a
                                           August 15-December 31              98               2             n/a
Non-Pacific cod non-trawl-Total.......     May 1-December 31....             n/a             n/a              49
Groundfish pot and jig................  n/a.....................             n/a             n/a         Exempt.
Sablefish hook-and-line...............  n/a.....................             n/a             n/a         Exempt.
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total for all non-trawl PSC.......  n/a.....................             n/a             n/a             710
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch 
rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of 
groundfish catch to project when a fishery's halibut bycatch mortality 
allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental 
catch rates are based on observers' estimates of halibut incidental 
catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion 
of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned 
to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a 
particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the 
estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific 
information available in conjunction with the annual BSAI stock 
assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an 
appendix to the annual BSAI groundfish SAFE report.
    In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the 
Council's directive. An interagency halibut working group 
(International Pacific Halibut Commission, Council, and NMFS staff) 
developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the 
Plan Team, SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology 
is included in the BSAI proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications 
(81 FR 87863, December 6, 2016), and the comprehensive discussion of 
the working group's statistical methodology is available from the 
Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR working group's revised methodology is 
intended to improve estimation accuracy, transparency, and 
transferability used for calculating DMRs. The working group will 
continue to consider improvements to the methodology used to calculate 
halibut mortality, including potential changes to the reference period 
(the period of data used for calculating the DMRs). Future DMRs may 
change based on additional years of observer sampling, which could 
provide more recent and accurate data and which could improve the 
accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The methodology 
will continue to ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more accurately 
reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different sectors of 
their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors to respond 
with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, the DMR for 
that sector.
    In October 2021, the Council recommended halibut DMRs derived from 
the revised methodology for the proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs. The 
proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs use an updated 2-year reference period. 
Comparing the proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs to the final DMRs from the 
2021 and 2022 harvest specifications, the DMR for pelagic trawl gear 
remained at 100 percent, the DMR for motherships and CPs using non-
pelagic trawl gear remained at 84 percent, the DMR for CVs using non-
pelagic trawl gear increased to 62 percent from 59 percent, the DMR for 
CPs using hook-and-line gear increased to 10 percent from 9 percent, 
the DMR for CVs using hook-and-line gear increased to 10 percent from 9 
percent, and the DMR for pot gear increased to 33 percent from 32 
percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs.

[[Page 68621]]



Table 12--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific Halibut Discard Mortality Rates
                           (DMR) for the BSAI
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        Halibut discard
             Gear                       Sector           mortality rate
                                                            percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pelagic trawl.................  All..................                100
Non-pelagic trawl.............  Mothership and                        84
                                 catcher/processor.
Non-pelagic trawl.............  Catcher vessel.......                 62
Hook-and-line.................  Catcher vessel.......                 10
Hook-and-line.................  Catcher/processor....                 10
Pot...........................  All..................                 33
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Listed AFA CP Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA CPs to engage in 
directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect 
participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects 
resulting from the AFA fishery and from fishery cooperatives in the 
directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are set out as sideboard 
limits on catch. On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 
FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA CPs 
from directed fishing for groundfish species or species groups subject 
to sideboard limits (see Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 54 to 50 
CFR part 679). NMFS proposes to exempt AFA CPs from a yellowfin sole 
sideboard limit pursuant to Sec.  679.64(a)(1)(v) because the proposed 
2022 and 2023 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the 
Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater 
than 125,000 mt.
    Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to 50 CFR part 679 
establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for halibut 
and crab caught by listed AFA CPs. The basis for these sideboard limits 
is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major 
provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 
(72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). PSC species listed in Table 13 that 
are caught by listed AFA CPs participating in any groundfish fishery 
other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2022 and 2023 PSC 
sideboard limits for the listed AFA CPs. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), 
(e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for 
groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA CPs once a proposed 2022 
or 2023 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 13 is reached. Pursuant to 
Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC by 
listed AFA CPs while fishing for pollock will accrue against the PSC 
allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/``other 
species'' fishery categories, according to Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) 
and (e)(3)(iv).

    Table 13--Proposed 2022 and 2023 BSAI American Fisheries Act Listed Catcher/Processor Prohibited Species
                                                Sideboard Limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           Proposed 2022 and
                                                                          2023 PSC available   Proposed 2022 and
               PSC species and area \1\                 Ratio of PSC to    to trawl vessels    2023 CP sideboard
                                                           total PSC       after subtraction       limit \2\
                                                                              of PSQ \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BSAI Halibut mortality...............................                n/a                 n/a                 286
Red king crab Zone 1.................................              0.007              28,576                 200
C. opilio (COBLZ)....................................              0.153           3,884,550             594,336
C. bairdi Zone 1.....................................              0.140             741,190             103,767
C. bairdi Zone 2.....................................              0.050           2,250,360             112,518
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas and zones.
\2\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.

AFA CV Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of AFA CVs to engage in 
directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect 
participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects 
resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the pollock 
directed fishery. On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 
FR 2723) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA CVs 
from directed fishing for a majority of the groundfish species or 
species groups subject to sideboard limits (see Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 55 to 50 CFR part 679). The remainder of 
the sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs are proposed in Table 14.
    Section 679.64(b)(3) and (b)(4) establish formulas for setting AFA 
CV groundfish and halibut and crab PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. 
The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the 
final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, 
December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). 
NMFS proposes to exempt AFA CVs from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit 
pursuant to Sec.  679.64(b)(6) because the proposed 2022 and 2023 
aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector 
and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Table 
14 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 AFA CV sideboard limits.

[[Page 68622]]



  Table 14--Proposed 2022 and 2023 BSAI Pacific Cod Sideboard Limits for American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessels
                                                      (CVs)
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Ratio of 1997                    2022 and 2023 AFA
                Fishery by area/gear/season                  AFA CV catch to   2022 and 2023     catcher vessel
                                                                   TAC          initial TAC     sideboard limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BSAI.......................................................              n/a              n/a                n/a
Trawl gear CV..............................................              n/a              n/a                n/a
    Jan 20-Apr 1...........................................           0.8609           15,896             13,685
    Apr 1-Jun 10...........................................           0.8609            2,363              2,034
    Jun 10-Nov 1...........................................           0.8609            3,222              2,774
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: As proposed, Sec.   679.64(b)(6) would exempt AFA CVs from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the
  proposed 2022 and 2023 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl
  limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt.

    Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 15 that are caught by 
AFA CVs participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will 
accrue against the 2022 and 2023 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA CVs. 
Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(3)(v), and (e)(7) authorize NMFS to 
close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA CVs 
once a proposed 2022 and 2023 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 15 is 
reached. Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), 
halibut or crab PSC by AFA CVs while fishing for pollock will accrue 
against the PSC allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka 
mackerel/``other species'' fishery categories under Sec.  
679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).

Table 15--Proposed 2022 and 2023 American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Prohibited Species Catch Sideboard Limits
                                                for the BSAI \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Proposed 2022 and  Proposed 2022 and
                                                            AFA catcher       2023 PSC limit    2023 AFA catcher
     PSC species and area \1\         Target fishery         vessel PSC     after subtraction      vessel PSC
                                       category \2\       sideboard limit    of PSQ reserves    sideboard limit
                                                               ratio               \3\                \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut..........................  Pacific cod trawl...                n/a                n/a                887
                                   Pacific cod hook-and-               n/a                n/a                  2
                                    line or pot.
                                   Yellowfin sole total                n/a                n/a                101
                                   Rock sole/flathead                  n/a                n/a                228
                                    sole/Alaska plaice/
                                    other flatfish \4\.
                                   Greenland turbot/                   n/a                n/a  .................
                                    arrowtooth flounder/
                                    Kamchatka flounder/
                                    sablefish.
                                   Rockfish............                n/a                n/a                  2
                                   Pollock/Atka                        n/a                n/a                  5
                                    mackerel/other
                                    species \5\.
Red king crab Zone 1.............  n/a.................             0.2990             28,576              8,544
C. opilio COBLZ..................  n/a.................             0.1680          3,884,550            652,604
C. bairdi Zone 1.................  n/a.................             0.3300            741,190            244,593
C. bairdi Zone 2.................  n/a.................             0.1860          2,250,360            418,567
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas and zones.
\2\ Target fishery categories are defined at Sec.   679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).
\3\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.
\4\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole,
  and yellowfin sole.
\5\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sharks, and octopuses.

Classification

    NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are 
consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed 
harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment.
    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared an EIS for the Alaska groundfish harvest 
specifications and alternative harvest strategies (see ADDRESSES) and 
made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On 
February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the ROD for the Final EIS. A SIR is 
being prepared for the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications to 
provide a subsequent assessment of the action and to address the need 
to prepare a Supplemental EIS (40 CFR 1501.11(b); Sec.  1502.9(d)(1)). 
Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and annual SIRs for this action are 
available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the 
environmental, social, and economic consequences of the proposed 
groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on 
resources in the action area. Based on the analysis in the Final EIS, 
NMFS concluded that the preferred alternative (Alternative 2) provides 
the best balance among relevant environmental, social, and economic 
considerations and allows for continued management of the groundfish 
fisheries based on the most recent, best scientific information.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    This Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was prepared 
for this proposed rule, as required by Section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 603), to describe the

[[Page 68623]]

economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small 
entities. The IRFA describes the action; the reasons why this proposed 
rule is proposed; the objectives and legal basis for this proposed 
rule; the estimated number and description of directly regulated small 
entities to which this proposed rule would apply; the recordkeeping, 
reporting, and other compliance requirements of this proposed rule; and 
the relevant Federal rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict 
with this proposed rule. The IRFA also describes significant 
alternatives to this proposed rule that would accomplish the stated 
objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and any other applicable 
statutes, and that would minimize any significant economic impact of 
this proposed rule on small entities. The description of the proposed 
action, its purpose, and the legal basis are explained earlier in the 
preamble and are not repeated here.
    For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size 
standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary 
industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily 
engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has 
combined annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its 
affiliated operations worldwide. A shoreside processor primarily 
involved in seafood processing (NAICS code 311710) is classified as a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has 
combined annual employment, counting all individuals employed on a 
full-time, part-time, or other basis, not in excess of 750 employees 
for all its affiliated operations worldwide.

Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by This Proposed 
Rule

    The entities directly regulated by the groundfish harvest 
specifications include: (a) Entities operating vessels with groundfish 
Federal fisheries permits (FFPs) catching FMP groundfish in Federal 
waters (including those receiving direction allocations of groundfish); 
(b) all entities operating vessels, regardless of whether they hold 
groundfish FFPs, catching FMP groundfish in the state-waters parallel 
fisheries; and (c) all entities operating vessels fishing for halibut 
inside three miles of the shore (whether or not they have FFPs). In 
2020 (the most recent year of complete data), there were 288 individual 
CVs and CPs with gross revenues less than or equal to $11 million as 
well as six CDQ groups. This estimate does not account for corporate 
affiliations among vessels, and for cooperative affiliations among 
fishing entities, since some of the fishing vessels operating in the 
BSAI are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, Gulf of Alaska 
Rockfish Program cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization Program 
cooperatives. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are 
considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA because 
the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members exceed the 
$11 million threshold. After accounting for membership in these 
cooperatives, there are an estimated 155 small CV and 4 small CP 
entities remaining in the BSAI groundfish sector. However, the estimate 
of these 155 CVs may be an overstatement of the number of small 
entities. This latter group of vessels had average gross revenues that 
varied by gear type. Average gross revenues for hook-and-line CVs, pot 
gear CVs, trawl gear CVs, hook-and-line CPs, and pot gear CPs are 
estimated to be $530,000, $1.1 million, $2.8 million, $6.6 million, and 
$3.1 million, respectively.

Description of Significant Alternatives That Minimize Adverse Impacts 
on Small Entities

    The action under consideration is the proposed 2022 and 2023 
harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch 
limits for the groundfish fishery of the BSAI. This action is necessary 
to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2022 and 2023 
fishing years and is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared by the 
Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The establishment of the 
proposed harvest specifications is governed by the Council's harvest 
strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the BSAI. This strategy 
was selected from among five alternatives, with the preferred 
alternative harvest strategy being one in which the TACs fall within 
the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC. Under the preferred harvest 
strategy, TACs are set to a level that falls within the range of ABCs 
recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY 
specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the harvest 
strategy produces may vary from year to year, the methodology used for 
the preferred harvest strategy remains constant.
    The TACs associated with preferred harvest strategy are those 
recommended by the Council in October 2021. OFLs and ABCs for the 
species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council's Plan 
Team in September 2021, and reviewed by the Council's SSC in October 
2021. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, 
which were consistent with the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations. The 
sum of all TACs remains within the OY for the BSAI consistent with 
Sec.  679.20(a)(1)(i)(A). Because setting all TACs equal to ABCs would 
cause the sum of TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt, TACs for some 
species or species groups are lower than the ABCs recommended by the 
Plan Team and the SSC.
    The proposed 2022 and 2023 OFLs and ABCs are based on the best 
available biological information, including projected biomass trends, 
information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised 
technical methods to calculate stock biomass. The proposed 2022 and 
2023 TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic 
information. The proposed 2022 and 2023 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are 
consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as 
described in the 2020 SAFE report, which is the most recent, completed 
SAFE report.
    Under this action, the proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that 
are less than the specified overfishing levels. The proposed TACs are 
within the range of proposed ABCs recommended by the SSC and do not 
exceed the biological limits recommended by the SSC (the ABCs and 
overfishing levels). For some species and species groups in the BSAI, 
the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, proposed TACs equal to 
proposed ABCs, which is intended to maximize harvest opportunities in 
the BSAI.
    However, NMFS cannot set TACs for all species in the BSAI equal to 
their ABCs due to the constraining OY limit of two million mt. For this 
reason, some proposed TACs are less than the proposed ABCs. The 
specific reductions are reviewed and recommended by the Council's AP, 
and the Council in turn adopted the AP's TAC recommendations for the 
proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs.
    Based upon the best available scientific data, and in consideration 
of the Council's objectives of this action, it appears that there are 
no significant alternatives to the proposed rule that have the 
potential to accomplish the stated objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act and any other applicable statutes and that have the potential to 
minimize any significant adverse economic impact of the proposed rule

[[Page 68624]]

on small entities. This action is economically beneficial to entities 
operating in the BSAI, including small entities. The action proposes 
TACs for commercially-valuable species in the BSAI and allows for the 
continued prosecution of the fishery, thereby creating the opportunity 
for fishery revenue. After public process during which the Council 
solicited input from stakeholders, the Council concluded that the 
proposed harvest specifications would best accomplish the stated 
objectives articulated in the preamble for this proposed rule, and in 
applicable statutes, and would minimize to the extent practicable 
adverse economic impacts on the universe of directly regulated small 
entities.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal 
rules.
    This proposed rule contains no information collection requirements 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
    Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered or threatened 
species resulting from fishing activities conducted under these harvest 
specifications are discussed in the Final EIS and its accompanying 
annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES).

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 
1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105-277; Pub. L. 106-
31; Pub. L. 106-554; Pub. L. 108-199; Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 109-
241; Pub. L. 109-479.

    Dated: November 29, 2021.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-26180 Filed 12-1-21; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P