Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Proposed 2022 and 2023 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 68982-69001 [2021-26221]

Download as PDF 68982 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules REFRIGERANTS—ACCEPTABLE SUBJECT TO USE CONDITIONS—Continued Application Substitute Decision Motor vehicle air conditioning (newly manufactured nonroad construction, forestry, and mining equipment). HFO– 1234yf. Acceptable subject to use conditions. Motor vehicle air conditioning (newly manufactured nonroad commercial utility vehicles). HFO– 1234yf. Acceptable subject to use conditions. Conditions Comments (2) Manufacturers must conduct Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) as provided in SAE J1739.2 4 5 Manufacturers must keep the FMEA on file for at least three years from the date of creation. As of [30 days after publication of final rule]: ........................... (1) HFO–1234yf MVAC systems must adhere to all of the safety requirements of SAE J639,1 4 5 including requirements for a flammable refrigerant warning label, high-pressure compressor cutoff switch and pressure relief devices, and unique fittings. For connections with refrigerant containers for use in professional servicing, use fittings must be consistent with SAE J2844.3 4 5 For connections with small refrigerant cans for consumer or professional use, use fittings must have a diameter of 0.5 inches, a thread pitch of 16 thread per inch, and a left thread direction, consistent with SAE J2844. (2) Manufacturers must conduct Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) as provided in SAE J1739.2 4 5 Manufacturers must keep the FMEA on file for at least three years from the date of creation. As of [30 days after publication of final rule]: ........................... (1) HFO–1234yf MVAC systems must adhere to all of the safety requirements of SAE J639,1 4 5 including requirements for a flammable refrigerant warning label, high-pressure compressor cutoff switch and pressure relief devices, and unique fittings. For connections with refrigerant containers for use in professional servicing, use fittings must be consistent with SAE J2844.3 4 5 For connections with small refrigerant cans for consumer or professional use, use fittings must have a diameter of 0.5 inches, a thread pitch of 16 thread per inch, and a left thread direction, consistent with SAE J2844. (2) Manufacturers must conduct Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) as provided in SAE J1739.2 4 5 Manufacturers must keep the FMEA on file for at least three years from the date of creation. Additional training for service technicians recommended. HFO–1234yf is also known as 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoroprop-1-ene (CAS No 754–12–1). Consistent with EPA’s Significant New Use Rule for HFO–1234yf under the Toxic Substances Control Act, commercial users or consumers can only recharge MVAC systems with HFO–1234yf where the original charging of the system with HFO– 1234yf was done by the original equipment manufacturer. Additional training for service technicians recommended. HFO–1234yf is also known as 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoroprop-1-ene (CAS No 754–12–1). Consistent with EPA’s Significant New Use Rule for HFO–1234yf under the Toxic Substances Control Act, commercial users or consumers can only recharge MVAC systems with HFO–1234yf where the original charging of the system with HFO– 1234yf was done by the original equipment manufacturer. 1 SAE, J639, Safety and Design Standards for Motor Vehicle Refrigerant Vapor Compression Systems, Revised November 9, 2020. 2 SAE, J1739, Potential Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) Including Design FMEA, Supplemental FMEA–MSR, and Process FMEA, Revised January 13, 2021. 3 SAE, J2844, R–1234yf (HFO–1234yf) New Refrigerant Purity and Container Requirements for Use in Mobile Air-Conditioning Systems, Revised January 4, 2013. 4 You may purchase the material from SAE by mail: SAE Customer Service, 400 Commonwealth Drive, Warrendale, PA 15096–0001; by telephone: 1–877–606– 7323 in the United States or 724–776–4970 outside the United States or in Canada; or web: https://www.sae.org/standards. 5 The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. All approved material is available for inspection at U.S. EPA’s Air and Radiation Docket; EPA West Building, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 202–566–1742 and is available from SAE International (SAE), 400 Commonwealth Drive, Warrendale, PA 15096–0001, 1–877–606–7323, https://www.sae.org/standards. They are also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, email fr.inspection@ nara.gov, or go to: www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html. * * * * * BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS [Docket No. 211129–0247; RTID 0648– XY118] Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 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. AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 NMFS proposes 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). 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 Gulf of Alaska. 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 GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). DATES: Comments must be received by January 5, 2022. SUMMARY: [FR Doc. 2021–25440 Filed 12–3–21; 8:45 am] Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS– 2021–0097, by either of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20210097, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ 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, ADDRESSES: E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules 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 (SIR) 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 GOA, dated November 2020, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 1007 West Third, Suite 400, 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 GOA will be available from the same source. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680. The FMP and its implementing regulations require that NMFS, after consultation with the Council, specify the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species, the sum of which must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt) (§ 679.20(a)(1)(i)(B)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof, Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. The proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 20 of this rule satisfy these requirements. For 2022 and 2023, the sum of the proposed TAC amounts is 409,039 mt. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 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. Proposed Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications In October 2021, the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), its Advisory Panel (AP), and the Council reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information about the condition of the GOA groundfish stocks. The Council’s GOA Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) compiled and presented this information in the final 2020 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2020 (see ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of each species’ biomass and other biological parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team recommends, and the SSC sets, an Overfishing Limit (OFL) and Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) for each species or species group. The amounts proposed for the 2022 and 2023 OFLs and ABCs are based on the 2020 SAFE report. The AP and Council recommended that the proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs be set equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of the species and species groups further discussed below. The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs could be changed in the final harvest specifications depending on the most recent scientific information contained in the final 2021 SAFE report. The stock assessments that will comprise, in part, the 2021 SAFE report are available at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ population-assessments/north-pacificgroundfish-stock-assessment-andfishery-evaluation. The final 2021 SAFE report will be available from the same source. 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 PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 68983 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 public comments in making its recommendations for the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(2) and (3), the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if warranted based on the biological condition of groundfish stocks or a variety of socioeconomic considerations, or if required to cause the sum of TACs to fall within the OY range. 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 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 used for producing stock assessments. At the September 2021 Plan Team meeting, NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results. Scientists also discussed potential changes to assessment models, and accompanying preliminary stock estimates. At the October 2021 Council meeting, the SSC reviewed this information. The species with potential for a significant model change is rock sole. Model changes can result in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs. In November 2021, the Plan Team will consider updated survey results and updated stock assessments for groundfish, which will be included in the draft 2021 SAFE report. If the 2021 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications for that species 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. 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 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 68984 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the tiers to be used to calculate OFLs and ABCs. The tiers applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information available to the fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs, with Tier 1 representing the highest level of information quality available and Tier 6 representing the lowest level of information quality available. The Plan Team used the FMP tier structure to calculate OFLs and ABCs for each groundfish species. The SSC adopted the proposed 2022 and 2023 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP’s TAC recommendations. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Other Potential Changes: Pacific Cod For Pacific cod, there is continued concern among stock assessment scientists about the stability of the Pacific cod stock, which may have substantial management implications for 2022 and 2023. In November 2021, NMFS will receive the GOA Pacific cod stock assessment, which will include information about this stock’s spawning biomass. The Steller sea lion harvest control regulations at § 679.20(d)(4) state that if a biological assessment of the Pacific cod stock projects that the spawning biomass within an area will be equal to or below 20 percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass during a fishing year, the Regional Administrator must prohibit directed fishing within that area, and the directed fishery will remain closed until a subsequent biological assessment projects that the spawning biomass will exceed 20 percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass. Also, if Pacific cod spawning biomass falls below the B17.5% level, a rebuilding plan will be required to comply with provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1854(e)). Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs that are equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of pollock for the combined Western and Central GOA and West Yakutat District area, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western GOA, arrowtooth flounder in the Western GOA and the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 (SEO) Districts, flathead sole in the Western and Central GOA, Atka mackerel, and ‘‘other rockfish’’ in the SEO District. The combined Western and Central Regulatory Areas and the West Yakutat (WYK) District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (the W/C/WYK) pollock TAC and the GOA Pacific cod TACs are set to account for the State of Alaska’s (State) guideline harvest levels (GHL) for the State water pollock and Pacific cod fisheries so that the ABCs are not exceeded. The shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these target species while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts (ICA) in other fisheries. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ TAC in the SEO District is set to reduce the amount of discards of the species in that complex. These reductions are described below. NMFS’s proposed apportionments of groundfish species are based on the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas over which NMFS manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on apportionments of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish are described below. The ABC for the pollock stock in the W/C/WYK Regulatory Area accounts for the GHL established by the State for the Prince William Sound (PWS) pollock fishery. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council have recommended that the sum of all State water and Federal water pollock removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. For 2022 and 2023, the Council recommended the W/C/WYK pollock ABC include the amount to account for the State’s PWS GHL. At the November 2018 Plan Team meeting, State fisheries managers recommended setting the future PWS GHL at 2.5 percent of the annual W/C/ WYK pollock ABC. For 2022, this yields a PWS pollock GHL of 2,298 mt, a decrease of 345 mt from the 2021 PWS GHL of 2,643 mt. After accounting for the PWS GHL, the 2022 and 2023 pollock ABC for the combined W/C/ WYK areas is then apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630, and 640) as both ABCs and TACs, as described below and detailed in Table 1. The total ABCs and TACs for the four statistical areas, plus the State GHL, do not exceed the combined W/C/ WYK ABC. The proposed W/C/WYK 2022 and 2023 pollock ABC is 91,934 mt, and the proposed TAC is 89,636 mt. PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Apportionments of pollock to the W/ C/WYK management areas are considered to be apportionments of annual catch limit (ACL) rather than apportionments of ABCs. This more accurately reflects that such apportionments address management concerns, rather than biological or conservation concerns. In addition, apportionments of the ACL in this manner allow NMFS to balance any transfer of TAC among Areas 610, 620, and 630 pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the combined W/C/WYK ACL, ABC, and TAC are not exceeded. NMFS proposes pollock TACs in the Western (Area 610) and Central (Areas 620 and 630) Regulatory Areas and the West Yakutat (Area 640) and the SEO (Area 650) Districts of the GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630. These apportionments are divided equally among the following two seasons: the A season (January 20 through May 31) and the B season (September 1 through November 1) (§§ 679.23(d)(2)(i) and (ii), and 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail is provided below; Table 2 lists these amounts. The proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State’s GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in PWS (in the Eastern Regulatory Area) (see Table 1). The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State water and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the Council recommended the 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. Therefore, the proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs are less than the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 3,868 mt; (2) Central GOA, 5,511 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 801 mt. These amounts reflect the State’s 2022 and 2023 GHLs in these areas, which are 30 percent of the Western GOA proposed ABC, and 25 percent of the Eastern and Central GOA proposed ABCs. The Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs are allocated among various gear and operational sectors. NMFS also establishes seasonal apportionments of the annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. The Pacific cod sector and seasonal apportionments are discussed in detail in a subsequent section and in Table 4 of this rule. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules The Council’s recommendation for sablefish area apportionments takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (§ 679.7(b)(1)) and makes available five percent of the Eastern Regulatory Area (WYK and SEO Districts combined) TAC to vessels using trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other trawl groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). Additional detail is provided below. Tables 5 and 6 list the proposed 2022 and 2023 allocations of the sablefish TAC to fixed gear and trawl gear in the GOA. For 2022 and 2023, the Council recommends and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. These 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 are adjusted for other 68985 biological and socioeconomic considerations. The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 409,039 mt for 2022 and 2023, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. These proposed amounts and apportionments by area, season, and sector are subject to change pending consideration of the 2021 SAFE report, public comment, and the Council’s recommendations for the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications during its December 2021 meeting. TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICT OF THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area 1 Pollock 2 ........................................................................... Shumagin (610) ............................. Chirikof (620) ................................. Kodiak (630) .................................. WYK (640) ..................................... W/C/WYK (subtotal) ...................... SEO (650) ...................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 106,767 13,531 16,067 47,714 21,149 4,706 91,934 10,148 16,067 47,714 21,149 4,706 89,636 10,148 Total ........................................ 120,298 102,082 99,784 W ................................................... C .................................................... E .................................................... n/a n/a n/a 12,892 22,045 3,204 9,024 16,534 2,403 Total ........................................ 46,587 38,141 27,961 W ................................................... C .................................................... WYK ............................................... SEO ............................................... E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) ........ n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 4,165 11,111 4,009 5,946 9,955 4,165 11,111 4,009 5,946 9,955 Total ........................................ 70,710 25,231 25,231 W ................................................... C .................................................... WYK ............................................... SEO ............................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 24,460 28,442 2,844 1,137 13,250 28,442 2,844 1,137 Total ........................................ 69,691 56,883 45,673 W ................................................... C .................................................... WYK ............................................... SEO ............................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 225 1,914 2,068 1,719 225 1,914 2,068 1,719 Total ........................................ 7,040 5,926 5,926 W ................................................... C .................................................... WYK ............................................... SEO ............................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 3,013 8,912 1,206 2,285 3,013 8,912 1,206 2,285 Total ........................................ 18,779 15,416 15,416 W ................................................... C .................................................... WYK ............................................... SEO ............................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 31,479 67,154 8,147 16,665 14,500 67,154 6,900 6,900 Total ........................................ 147,515 123,445 95,454 W ................................................... C .................................................... WYK ............................................... n/a n/a n/a 14,380 21,076 2,456 8,650 15,400 2,456 Pacific cod 3 ..................................................................... Sablefish 4 ........................................................................ Shallow-water flatfish 5 ..................................................... Deep-water flatfish 6 ......................................................... khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Rex sole ........................................................................... Arrowtooth flounder ......................................................... Flathead sole ................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 OFL E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM ABC 06DEP1 TAC 2 68986 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICT OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species Pacific ocean perch 7 ....................................................... Northern rockfish 8 ........................................................... Shortraker rockfish 9 ........................................................ Dusky rockfish 10 .............................................................. Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish 11 ........................... rockfish 12 Demersal shelf ............................................... Thornyhead rockfish 13 .................................................... Other rockfish 14 15 ........................................................... khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Atka mackerel .................................................................. Big skates 16 .................................................................... Longnose skates 17 .......................................................... Other skates 18 ................................................................. Sharks .............................................................................. Octopuses ........................................................................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 OFL TAC 2 ABC SEO ............................................... n/a 1,939 1,939 Total ........................................ 48,534 39,851 28,445 W ................................................... C .................................................... WYK ............................................... W/C/WYK ....................................... SEO ............................................... n/a n/a n/a 34,974 6,136 1,572 26,234 1,631 29,437 5,165 1,572 26,234 1,631 29,437 5,165 Total ........................................ 41,110 34,602 34,602 W ................................................... C .................................................... E .................................................... n/a n/a n/a 1,926 3,173 1 1,926 3,173 ........................ Total ........................................ 6,088 5,100 5,099 W ................................................... C .................................................... E .................................................... n/a n/a n/a 52 284 372 52 284 372 Total ........................................ 944 708 708 W ................................................... C .................................................... WYK ............................................... SEO ............................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 265 4,469 460 101 265 4,469 460 101 Total ........................................ 8,423 5,295 5,295 W ................................................... C .................................................... E .................................................... n/a n/a n/a 170 459 592 170 459 592 Total ........................................ 1,467 1,221 1,221 SEO ............................................... W ................................................... C .................................................... E .................................................... 405 n/a n/a n/a 257 352 910 691 257 352 910 691 Total ........................................ 2,604 1,953 1,953 W/C combined ............................... WYK ............................................... SEO ............................................... n/a n/a n/a 940 369 2,744 940 369 300 Total ........................................ 5,320 4,053 1,609 GW ................................................. W ................................................... C .................................................... E .................................................... 6,200 n/a n/a n/a 4,700 758 1,560 890 3,000 758 1,560 890 Total ........................................ 4, 278 3,208 3,208 W ................................................... C .................................................... E .................................................... n/a n/a n/a 158 1,875 554 158 1,875 554 Total ........................................ 3,449 2,587 2,587 GW ................................................. GW ................................................. GW ................................................. 1,166 5,006 1,307 875 3,755 980 875 3,755 980 Frm 00055 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules 68987 TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICT OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species Total .......................................................................... OFL ........................................................ ABC 616,921 476,269 TAC 2 409,039 1 Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide). 2 The total for the W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas pollock ABC is 91,934 mt. After deducting 2.5 percent (2,298 mt) of that ABC for the State’s pollock GHL fishery, the remaining pollock ABC of 89,636 mt (for the W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas) is apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630, and 640). These apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes. The ACLs in Areas 610, 620, and 630 are further divided by season, as detailed in Table 2 (proposed 2022 and 2023 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal allowances). In the West Yakutat (Area 640) and Southeast Outside (Area 650) Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3 The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned, after seasonal apportionment to the jig sector, as follows: (1) 63.84 percent to the A season and 36.16 percent to the B season and (2) 64.16 percent to the A season and 35.84 percent to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, respectively. The Pacific cod TAC in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA is allocated 90 percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component. Table 4 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments and sector allocations. 4 The sablefish OFL and ABC are set Alaska-wide (70,710 mt and 36,955 mt, respectively) and the GOA sablefish ABC is 25,231 mt. Additionally, sablefish is allocated only to trawl gear in 2023. Tables 5 and 6 list the proposed 2022 and 2023 allocations of sablefish TACs. 5 ‘‘Shallow-water flatfish’’ means flatfish not including ‘‘deep-water flatfish,’’ flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 6 ‘‘Deep-water flatfish’’ means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deepsea sole. 7 ‘‘Pacific ocean perch’’ means Sebastes alutus. 8 ‘‘Northern rockfish’’ means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 1 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern Regulatory Area has been included in the ‘‘other rockfish’’ species group. 9 ‘‘Shortraker rockfish’’ means Sebastes borealis. 10 ‘‘Dusky rockfish’’ means Sebastes variabilis. 11 ‘‘Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish’’ means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 12 ‘‘Demersal shelf rockfish’’ means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper), S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye). 13 ‘‘Thornyhead rockfish’’ means Sebastolobus species. 14 ‘‘Other rockfish means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, ‘‘other rockfish’’ also includes northern rockfish (S. polyspinous). 15 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District of the Eastern Regulatory Area means all rockfish species included in the ‘‘other rockfish’’ and demersal shelf rockfish categories. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ species group in the SEO District only includes other rockfish. 16 ‘‘Big skates’’ means Raja binoculata. 17 ‘‘Longnose skates’’ means Raja rhina. 18 ‘‘Other skates’’ means Bathyraja and Raja spp. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed Apportionment of Reserves Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sharks, and octopuses in reserve for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing year. Section 679.20(b)(3) authorizes NMFS to reapportion all or part of these reserves. In 2021, NMFS reapportioned all of the reserves in the final harvest specifications. For 2022 and 2023, NMFS proposes reapportionment of each of the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sharks, and octopuses back into the original TAC from which the reserve was derived. NMFS expects, based on recent harvest patterns, that such reserves will not be necessary and that the entire TAC for each of these species will be caught or are needed to promote efficient fisheries. The TACs in Table 1 reflect this proposed reapportionment of reserve amounts to the original TAC for these species and species groups, i.e., each proposed TAC for the abovementioned species or species groups VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 contains the full TAC recommended by the Council. Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore Components In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned into two seasonal allowances of 50 percent. As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (ii), the A and B season allowances are available from January 20 through May 31 and September 1 through November 1, respectively. The GOA pollock stock assessment continues to use a four-season methodology to determine pollock distribution in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA to maintain continuity in the historical pollock apportionment time-series. PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630 in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass determined by the most recent NMFS surveys, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). The pollock chapter of the 2020 SAFE report (see ADDRESSES) contains a comprehensive description of the apportionment and reasons for the minor changes from past apportionments. For purposes of specifying pollock between two seasons for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, NMFS has summed the A and B season apportionments and the C and D season apportionments as calculated in the 2020 GOA pollock assessment. This yields the seasonal amounts specified for the A season and the B season, respectively. Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 68988 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules Regional Administrator (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount is limited to 20 percent of the subsequent seasonal TAC apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20percent limit could be further distributed to the subsequent season in the other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass to the subsequent season and in an amount no more than 20 percent of the seasonal TAC apportionment in those statistical areas (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2022 and 2023 pollock TACs in the WYK District of 4,706 mt and the SEO District of 10,148 mt are not allocated by season. Table 2 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 area apportionments and seasonal allowances of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown. Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires allocation of 100 percent of the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after subtraction of amounts projected by the Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore component is the amount that will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed by § 679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these ICAs of pollock are unknown and will be determined during the fishing year during the course of fishing activities by the offshore component. TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN REGULATORY AREAS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA; AREA APPORTIONMENTS; AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF ANNUAL TAC 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Shumigan (Area 610) Season 2 Chirikof (Area 620) Kodiak (Area 630) Total 3 A (January 20–May 31) ................................................................................... B (September 1–November 1) ........................................................................ 695 15,372 36,294 11,420 5,476 15,672 42,465 42,465 Annual Total ............................................................................................. 16,067 47,714 21,149 84,929 1 Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding. established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (ii), the A and B season allowances are available from January 20 through May 31 and September 1 through November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 3 The West Yakutat and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. 2 As khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS proposes allocations for the 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionments of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. A portion of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hookand-line, pot, and jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl gear from January 20 through June 10. The remainder of the annual TAC is apportioned to the B season for jig gear from June 10 through December 31, for hook-and-line and pot gear from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 (§§ 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). NMFS also proposes allocating the 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs annually between the inshore (90 percent) and offshore (10 percent) components in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA (§ 679.20(a)(6)(ii)). In the Western GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among catcher vessels (CV) using hook-and-line gear, catcher/processors (CP) using VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, CPs using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A)). In the Central GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among CVs less than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, CPs using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, CPs using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i)(B)). Excluding seasonal apportionments to the jig gear sector, NMFS proposes apportioning the remainder of the annual Pacific cod TACs as follows: the seasonal apportionments of the annual TAC in the Western GOA are 63.84 percent to the A season and 36.16 percent to the B season, and in the Central GOA are 64.16 percent to the A season and 35.84 percent to the B season. Under § 679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the Pacific cod allowance from the A season may be subtracted from, or added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that is determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 reallocated to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the fishing year. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be allocated to vessels with a Federal fisheries permit that use jig gear before the TACs are apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs, depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (see Table 1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). Jig sector allocation increases are established for a minimum of two years. NMFS has evaluated the historical harvest performance of the jig sector in the Western and Central GOA, and is proposing the 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod apportionments to this sector based on its historical harvest performance through 2021. NMFS did not evaluate the 2020 performance of the jig sectors in the Western and Central GOA. In 2020, the catch for the jig sectors could not reach 90 percent of the initial allocation required for a performance increase because NMFS prohibited E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 68989 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules directed fishing for all Pacific cod sectors (84 FR 70438, December 23, 2019). For 2022 and 2023, NMFS proposes that the jig sector receive 3.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. The 2022 and 2023 allocations consist of a base allocation of 1.5 percent of the Western GOA Pacific cod TAC, and prior historical harvest performance increases of 2.0 percent. For 2022 and 2023, NMFS also proposes that the jig sector receive 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA. The 2022 and 2023 allocations consist of a base allocation of 1.0 percent, and no additional performance increase in the Central GOA. The 2014 through 2021 Pacific cod jig allocations, catch, and percent allocation changes are listed in Table 3. TABLE 3—SUMMARY OF WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA PACIFIC COD CATCH BY JIG GEAR IN 2014 THROUGH 2021, AND CORRESPONDING PERCENT ALLOCATION CHANGES Area Initial percent of TAC Year Western GOA .......................................................... Central GOA ............................................................ NMFS will re-evaluate the annual 2021 harvest performance of the jig sector in the Western and Central GOA when the 2021 fishing year is complete to determine whether to change the jig sector allocations proposed by this action in conjunction with the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications. The current catch through October 2021 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Initial TAC allocation 2.5 3.5 3.5 2.5 1.5 2.5 n/a 3.5 2.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 n/a 1.0 Percent of initial allocation Catch (mt) >90% of initial allocation? Change to percent allocation 573 948 992 635 125 134 785 55 52 49 121 134 137 6 5 8 97 100 Y N N N Y Y ........................... ........................... ........................... ........................... ........................... ........................... Increase 1. None. Decrease 1. Decrease 1. Increase 1. Increase 1. 195 797 460 370 331 61 58 26 262 355 267 18 0 30 13 33 77 72 6 0 52 N N N N N N N ........................... ........................... ........................... ........................... ........................... ........................... ........................... None. Decrease 1. None. None. None. None. None. 102 26 26 N ........................... by the Western GOA jig sector indicates that the Pacific cod allocation percentage to this sector would probably not change in 2022, and would remain at 3.5 percent. Also, the current catch by the Central GOA jig sector indicates that this sector’s Pacific cod allocation percentage would not change in 2022, and would remain at 1 percent. For None. 2022 and 2023, NMFS proposes apportioning the jig sector allocations for the Western and Central GOA between the A season (60 percent) and the B season (40 percent) (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i)). Table 4 lists the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs. TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATIONS OF PACIFIC COD TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS IN THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS, AND THE EASTERN GOA INSHORE AND OFFSHORE PROCESSING COMPONENTS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] A Season Annual allocation (mt) Regulatory area and sector khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Western GOA: Jig (3.5% of TAC) ............................................. Hook-and-line CV ............................................. Hook-and-line CP ............................................. Trawl CV ........................................................... Trawl CP ........................................................... Pot CV and Pot CP .......................................... Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC B Season Seasonal allowances (mt) Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC Seasonal allowances (mt) 316 122 1,724 3,344 209 3,309 N/A 0.70 10.90 31.54 0.90 19.80 190 61 949 2,747 78 1,724 N/A 0.70 8.90 6.86 1.50 18.20 126 61 775 597 131 1,585 Total ........................................................... Central GOA: Jig (1.0% of TAC) ............................................. Hook-and-line <50 CV ...................................... Hook-and-line ≥50 CV ...................................... Hook-and-line CP ............................................. Trawl CV 1 ......................................................... Trawl CP ........................................................... Pot CV and Pot CP .......................................... 9,024 63.84 5,749 36.16 3,275 165 2,390 1,098 836 6,807 687 4,551 N/A 9.32 5.61 4.11 25.29 2.00 17.83 99 1,525 918 672 4,140 328 2,918 N/A 5.29 1.10 1.00 16.29 2.19 9.97 66 865 180 163 2,667 359 1,633 Total ........................................................... 16,534 64.16 10,601 35.84 5,933 Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:37 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 06DEP1 68990 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATIONS OF PACIFIC COD TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS IN THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS, AND THE EASTERN GOA INSHORE AND OFFSHORE PROCESSING COMPONENTS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] A Season Annual allocation (mt) Regulatory area and sector Eastern GOA ............................................................ Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC 2,403 B Season Seasonal allowances (mt) Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC 2,163 Seasonal allowances (mt) 240 1 Trawl catcher vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 630 mt, of the annual Central GOA Pacific cod TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679). This apportionment is deducted from the Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table 9: Proposed 2022 and 2023 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679). Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TAC Amounts to Vessels Using Fixed Gear and Trawl Gear Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) requires allocations of sablefish TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to fixed and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each TAC is allocated to fixed gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is allocated to fixed gear, and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern Regulatory Area may be used only to support incidental catch of sablefish while directed fishing for other target species using trawl gear (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes specifying for incidental catch the allocation of 5 percent of the Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish (WYK and SEO Districts combined) TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District of the Eastern Regulatory Area. The remainder of the WYK District sablefish TAC is allocated to vessels using fixed gear. This proposed action allocates 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using fixed gear. This results in proposed 2022 allocations of 498 mt to trawl gear and 3,511 mt to fixed gear in the WYK District, a proposed 2022 allocation of 5,946 mt to fixed gear in the SEO District, and a proposed 2023 allocation of 498 mt to trawl gear in the WYK District. Table 5 lists the allocations of the proposed 2022 sablefish TACs to fixed and trawl gear. Table 6 lists the allocations of the proposed 2023 sablefish TACs to trawl gear. The Council recommended that the trawl sablefish TAC be established for two years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish harvest specifications. Tables 5 and 6 list the proposed 2022 and 2023 trawl allocations, respectively. The Council also recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be established annually to ensure that the sablefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) fishery is conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on the most recent survey information. Since there is an annual assessment for sablefish and since the final harvest specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season begins (typically, in early March), the Council recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be set annually, rather than for two years, so that the best available scientific information could be considered in establishing the sablefish ABCs and TACs. Accordingly, Table 5 lists the proposed 2022 fixed gear allocations, and the 2023 fixed gear allocations will be specified in the 2023 and 2024 harvest specifications. With the exception of the trawl allocations that are provided to the Rockfish Program (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), directed fishing for sablefish with trawl gear is closed during the fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 20 (§ 679.23(c)). Therefore, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the effective date of the final 2023 and 2024 harvest specifications. TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2022 SABLEFISH TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATIONS TO FIXED AND TRAWL GEAR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Area/district TAC Fixed gear allocation Trawl allocation Western ........................................................................................ Central 1 ....................................................................................... West Yakutat 2 ............................................................................. Southeast Outside ....................................................................... 4,165 11,111 4,009 5,946 3,332 8,889 3,511 5,946 833 2,222 498 0 Total ...................................................................................... 25,231 21,678 3,553 1 The proposed trawl allocation of sablefish to the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (1,143 mt). See Table 9: Proposed 2022 and 2023 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 1,079 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries. 2 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC as incidental catch to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules 68991 TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2023 SABLEFISH TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATION TO TRAWL GEAR 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district TAC Fixed gear allocation Trawl allocation Western ........................................................................................ Central 2 ....................................................................................... West Yakutat 3 ............................................................................. Southeast Outside ....................................................................... 4,165 11,111 4,009 5,946 n/a n/a n/a n/a 833 2,222 498 0 Total ...................................................................................... 25,231 n/a 3,553 1 The Council recommended that the proposed 2023 harvest specifications for the fixed gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota fisheries not be specified in the proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications. 2 The proposed trawl allocation of sablefish to the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (1,143 mt). See Table 9: Proposed 2022 and 2023 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 1,079 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries. 3 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC as incidental catch to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. Proposed Allocations, Apportionments, and Sideboard Limitations for the Rockfish Program These proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications for the GOA include the fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations established by the Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily trawl CVs and trawl CPs, with limited participation by vessels using longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative quota to trawl participants for primary species (Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) and secondary species (Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish), allows a participant holding a license limitation program (LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative with other persons, and allows holders of CP LLP licenses to opt out of the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear. Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear. Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species in the Central GOA are allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch needs in other directed fisheries (§ 679.81(a)(2)). Participants in the Rockfish Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of specific secondary species. In addition to groundfish species, the Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the halibut PSC limit (191 mt) from the third season deep-water species fishery allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants (§ 679.81(d) and Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679). The Rockfish Program also establishes sideboard limits to restrict the ability of harvesters operating under the Rockfish Program to increase their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program fisheries. These restrictions and halibut PSC limits are discussed in a subsequent section in this rule titled ‘‘Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations.’’ Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) and Table 28e to 50 CFR part 679 require allocations of 5 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 50 mt of dusky rockfish to the entry level longline fishery in 2022 and 2023. The allocation for the entry level longline fishery may increase incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation would continue each year until it reaches the maximum percentage of the TAC for that species. In 2021, the catch for all three primary species did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. Therefore, NMFS is not proposing any increases to the entry level longline fishery 2022 and 2023 allocations in the Central GOA. The remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary species, after subtracting the ICAs, would be allocated to the CV and CP cooperatives (§ 679.81(a)(2)(iii)). Table 7 lists the allocations of the proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs for each rockfish primary species to the entry level longline fishery, the potential incremental increases for future years, and the maximum percentages of the TACs for the entry level longline fishery. TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Rockfish primary species Pacific ocean perch ..................................................................... Northern rockfish ......................................................................... Dusky rockfish ............................................................................. Section 679.81 requires allocations of rockfish primary species among various sectors of the Rockfish Program. Table 8 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 allocations of rockfish primary species VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 Incremental increase in 2023 if >90 percent of 2022 allocation is harvested (metric tons) Proposed 2022 and 2023 allocations (metric tons) 5 5 50 in the Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery, and rockfish CV and CP cooperatives in the Rockfish Program. NMFS also proposes setting aside ICAs for other directed fisheries in PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Up to maximum percent of each TAC of 5 5 20 the Central GOA of 2,500 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 300 mt of northern rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These amounts are based on recent E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 1 2 5 68992 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other groundfish fisheries. Allocations among vessels belonging to CV or CP cooperatives are not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program applications for CV cooperatives and CP cooperatives are not due to NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year; therefore, NMFS cannot calculate 2022 and 2023 allocations in conjunction with these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2022 allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheriesmanagement-reports#central-goarockfish when they become available after March 1. TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY AND ROCKFISH COOPERATIVES IN THE ROCKFISH PROGRAM [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Incidental catch allowance (ICA) Central GOA TAC Rockfish primary species TAC minus ICA Allocation to the entry level longline 1 fishery Allocation to the rockfish Cooperatives 2 Pacific ocean perch ............................................................. Northern rockfish .................................................................. Dusky rockfish ...................................................................... 26,234 3,173 4,469 2,500 300 250 23,734 2,873 4,219 5 5 50 23,729 2,868 4,169 Total .............................................................................. 33,876 3,050 30,826 60 30,766 1 Longline 2 Rockfish gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (50 CFR 679.2). cooperatives include vessels in CV and CP cooperatives (50 CFR 679.81). Section 679.81(c) and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679 requires allocations of rockfish secondary species to CV and CP cooperatives in the Central GOA. CV cooperatives receive allocations of Pacific cod, sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. CP cooperatives receive allocations of sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, rougheye and blackspotted rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Table 9 lists the apportionments of the proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the Central GOA to CV and CP cooperatives. TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 APPORTIONMENTS OF ROCKFISH SECONDARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GOA TO CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR COOPERATIVES [Values are in metric tons] Catcher Vessel cooperatives Central GOA annual TAC Rockfish secondary species Pacific cod ............................................................................ Sablefish .............................................................................. Shortraker rockfish ............................................................... Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish ................................... Thornyhead rockfish ............................................................ khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Halibut PSC Limits Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October 2021, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, halibut PSC limits of 1,706 mt for trawl gear, 257 mt for hookand-line gear, and 9 mt for the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District for both 2022 and 2023. The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at § 679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish (§ 679.21(d)(2)(i)(A)). The separate halibut PSC limit for the DSR fishery is intended to prevent that fishery from VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 Percentage of TAC 16,534 11,111 284 459 910 3.81 6.78 0.00 0.00 7.84 being impacted from the halibut PSC incurred by other GOA fisheries. NMFS estimates low halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because: (1) The duration of the DSR fisheries and the gear soak times are short; (2) the DSR fishery occurs in the winter when there is less overlap in the distribution of DSR and halibut; and (3) the directed commercial DSR fishery has a low DSR TAC. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the commercial GHL for the DSR fishery after deducting: (1) Estimates of DSR incidental catch in all fisheries (including halibut and subsistence); and (2) the allocation to the DSR sport fish fishery. In 2021, the commercial fishery for DSR was closed due to concerns about declining DSR biomass. PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Apportionment (mt) 630 753 0 0 71 Catcher/processor cooperatives Percentage of TAC 0.00 3.51 40.00 58.87 26.50 Apportionment (mt) 0 390 114 270 241 The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2022 and 2023. The Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, these exemptions because (1) pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch mortality; (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the vessel is operating (§ 679.7(f)(11)); (3) some sablefish IFQ permit holders hold halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain the E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules halibut they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ; and (4) NMFS estimates negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries given the small amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective nature of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released with jig gear. The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2021. The calculated halibut bycatch mortality through November 6, 2021 is 313 mt for trawl gear and 59 mt for hook-and-line gear, for a total halibut mortality of 372 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using groundfish and IFQ halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region’s catch accounting system. This accounting system contains historical and recent catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish and IFQ halibut fishery. Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: (1) Seasonal distribution of halibut; (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution; (3) expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species; (4) expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis; (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons; (6) expected actual start of fishing effort; and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. Based on public comment, information presented in the 2021 SAFE report, NMFS catch data, State catch data, or International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) stock assessment and mortality data, the Council may recommend or NMFS may make changes to the seasonal, gear-type, or fishery category apportionments of 68993 halibut PSC limits for the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications pursuant to § 679.21(d)(1) and (d)(4). The final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications (86 FR 10184, February 19, 2021) summarized the Council’s and NMFS’s findings for these FMP and regulatory considerations with respect to halibut PSC limits. The Council’s and NMFS’s proposed findings for these proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications are unchanged from the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications. Table 10 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. The halibut PSC limits in Tables 10, 11, and 12 reflect the halibut PSC limits set forth at § 679.21(d)(2) and (3). Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specifies that any underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a halibut PSC limit will be added to or deducted from the next respective seasonal apportionment within the fishing year. TABLE 10—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS, ALLOWANCES, AND APPORTIONMENTS [Values are in metric tons] Hook-and-line gear 1 Trawl gear Other than DSR Season Percent DSR Amount Season January 20–April 1 ......... April 1–July 1 ................. July 1–August 1 ............. 30.5 20 27 519 341 462 August 1–October 1 ....... October 1–December 31 7.5 15 128 256 Total ........................ ........................ 1,706 Percent Amount Season Percent January 1–June 10 ....... June 10–September 1 .. September 1–December 31. 86 2 12 221 5 31 January 1–December 31 9 ....................................... ........................ 257 ....................................... 9 1 The khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District and to hook-and-line fisheries other than the DSR fishery. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes that the hook-and-line sablefish IFQ fishery, and the pot and jig gear groundfish fisheries, be exempt from halibut PSC limits. Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the trawl halibut PSC limit as bycatch allowances to trawl fishery categories listed in § 679.21(d)(3)(iii). The annual apportionments are based on each category’s share of the anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during a fishing year and optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC limits are: (1) A deep-water species fishery, composed of sablefish, rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and (2) a shallowwater species fishery, composed of pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, skates, and ‘‘other species’’ (sharks and octopuses) (§ 679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Halibut mortality incurred while directed VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 fishing for skates with trawl gear accrues towards the shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC limit (69 FR 26320, May 12, 2004). NMFS will combine available trawl halibut PSC limit apportionments in part of the second season deep-water and shallow-water species fisheries for use in either fishery from May 15 through June 30 (§ 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(D)). This is intended to maintain groundfish harvest while minimizing halibut bycatch by these sectors to the extent practicable. This provides the trawl gear deep-water and shallow-water species fisheries additional flexibility and the incentive to participate in fisheries at times of the year that may have lower halibut PSC rates relative to other times of the year. Table 11 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 seasonal apportionments of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 gear deep-water and the shallow-water species fisheries. Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and CP sectors that are participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to the CP sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water species fishery’s halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment. After the combined CV and CP halibut PSC limit allocation of 191 mt to the Rockfish Program, 150 mt remains for the trawl deep-water species fishery’s halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment. Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC limit allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be reapportioned to the general GOA trawl E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 68994 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules fisheries for the last seasonal apportionment during the current fishing year to no more than 55 percent of the unused annual halibut PSC limit apportioned to Rockfish Program participants. The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use by any person for the remainder of the fishing year (§ 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(C)). TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 APPORTIONMENT OF THE PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS BETWEEN THE TRAWL GEAR SHALLOW-WATER AND DEEP-WATER SPECIES FISHERY CATEGORIES [Values are in metric tons] Season Shallow-water Deep-water 1 January 20–April 1 ....................................................................................................................... April 1–July 1 ............................................................................................................................... July 1–August 1 ........................................................................................................................... August 1–October 1 ..................................................................................................................... Subtotal, January 20–October 1 .................................................................................................. October 1–December 31 2 ........................................................................................................... 384 85 121 53 643 ........................ 135 256 341 75 807 ........................ 519 341 462 128 1,450 256 Total ...................................................................................................................................... ........................ ........................ 1,706 Total 1 Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Central GOA Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July 1 through August 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment. 2 There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries during the fifth season (October 1 through December 31). Section 679.21(d)(2)(i)(B) requires that the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC limit apportionment to vessels using hook-and-line gear must be apportioned between CVs and CPs in accordance with § 679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these harvest specifications. A comprehensive description and example of the calculations necessary to apportion the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and CP sectors were included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and are not repeated here. Pursuant to § 679.21(d)(2)(iii), the hook-and-line halibut PSC limit for the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ is apportioned between the CV and CP sectors in proportion to the total Western and Central GOA Pacific cod allocations, which vary annually based on the proportion of the Pacific cod biomass between the Western, Central, and Eastern GOA. Pacific cod is apportioned among these three management areas based on the percentage of overall biomass per area, as calculated in the 2020 Pacific cod stock assessment. Updated information in the final 2020 SAFE report describes this distributional calculation, which allocates ABC among GOA regulatory areas on the basis of the three most recent stock surveys. For 2022 and 2023, the proposed distribution of the total GOA Pacific cod ABC is 32 percent to the Western GOA, 59 percent to the Central GOA, and 9 percent to the Eastern GOA. Therefore, the calculations made in accordance with § 679.21(d)(2)(iii) incorporate the most recent information on GOA Pacific cod distribution and allocations with respect to the proposed annual halibut PSC limits for the CV and CP hook-and-line sectors. Additionally, the annual halibut PSC limits for both the CV and CP sectors of the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ are proposed to be divided into three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. For 2022 and 2023, NMFS proposes annual halibut PSC limits of 144 mt and 113 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line CP sectors, respectively. Table 12 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 apportionments of halibut PSC limits between the hook-and-line CV and the hook-and-line CP sectors of the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery.’’ No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS will calculate the projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the CV or CP hook-and-line sectors of the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ for the remainder of the year. The projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit is made available to the other hook-and-line sector for the remainder of that fishing year (§ 679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)), if NMFS determines that an additional amount of halibut PSC is necessary for that sector to continue its directed fishing operations. TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 APPORTIONMENTS OF THE ‘‘OTHER HOOK-AND-LINE FISHERY’’ ANNUAL HALIBUT PSC ALLOWANCE BETWEEN THE HOOK-AND-LINE GEAR CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTORS khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS [Values are in metric tons] ‘‘Other than DSR’’ allowance Hook-and-line sector 257 .................... Catcher Vessel .................... 144 Catcher/Processor ............... 113 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:37 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 Sector annual amount PO 00000 Frm 00063 Seasonal percentage Season January 1–June 10 .................................... June 10–September 1 ................................ September 1–December 31 ....................... January 1–June 10 .................................... June 10–September 1 ................................ September 1–December 31 ....................... Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 86 2 12 86 2 12 Sector seasonal amount 124 3 17 97 2 14 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules 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 (DMR), 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 GOA stock assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to the annual GOA groundfish SAFE report. In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per 68995 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 two-year reference period. Comparing the proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs to the final DMRs from the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications, the proposed DMR for Rockfish Program CVs using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 66 percent from 60 percent, the proposed DMR for CVs using hookand-line gear decreased to 12 percent from 13 percent, the proposed DMR for motherships and CPs using non-pelagic trawl gear decreased to 83 percent from 84 percent, and the proposed DMR for CPs and CVs using pot gear increased to 29 percent from 10 percent. Table 13 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs. the Council’s directive. An interagency halibut working group (IPHC, Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the Plan Team, the SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology is contained in the GOA proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87881, 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 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 TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR VESSELS FISHING IN THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead] Gear Sector Groundfish fishery Pelagic trawl ............................ Catcher vessel ......................................................................... Catcher/processor .................................................................... Catcher vessel ......................................................................... Catcher vessel ......................................................................... Mothership and catcher/processor ........................................... Catcher/processor .................................................................... Catcher vessel ......................................................................... Catcher vessel and catcher/processor .................................... All ............................................ All ............................................ Rockfish Program ................... All others ................................. All ............................................ All ............................................ All ............................................ All ............................................ Non-pelagic trawl ..................... Hook-and-line .......................... Pot ........................................... khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limits Section 679.21(h)(2) establishes separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and Central regulatory areas of the GOA in the trawl pollock directed fishery. These limits require that NMFS close directed fishing for pollock in the Western and Central GOA if the applicable Chinook salmon PSC limit is reached (§ 679.21(h)(8)). The annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the trawl pollock directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the Central GOA are set in § 679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii). Section 679.21(h)(3) established an initial annual PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock groundfish trawl fisheries in the Western and Central GOA. This limit is VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 apportioned among the three sectors that conduct directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock: 3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl CPs; 1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs participating in the Rockfish Program; and 2,700 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program (§ 679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will monitor the Chinook salmon PSC in the trawl non-pollock GOA groundfish fisheries and close an applicable sector if it reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit. The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl CPs and trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program, may be increased in subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Halibut discard mortality rate (percent) 100 100 66 69 83 15 12 29 salmon PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limit its use of Chinook salmon PSC to a certain threshold amount in 2021 (3,120 for trawl CPs and 2,340 for non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs), that sector will receive an increase to its 2022 Chinook salmon PSC limit (4,080 for trawl CPs and 3,060 for non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs) (§ 679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will evaluate the annual Chinook salmon PSC by trawl CPs and non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs when the 2021 fishing year is complete to determine whether to increase the Chinook salmon PSC limits for these two sectors. Based on preliminary 2021 Chinook salmon PSC data, the trawl CP sector may receive an incremental increase of Chinook salmon PSC limit in 2022, and the non-Rockfish Program trawl CV E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 68996 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules sector will not receive an incremental increase of Chinook salmon PSC limit in 2022. This evaluation will be completed in conjunction with the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications. American Fisheries Act (AFA) CP and CV Groundfish Harvest and PSC Limits Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing sideboard limits on AFA CPs and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA CPs and CPs designated on a listed AFA CP permit from harvesting any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, § 679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA CPs and CPs designated on a listed AFA CP permit from processing any pollock harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. AFA CVs that are less than 125 feet (38.1 meters) length overall, have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA groundfish from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA CV groundfish sideboard limits under § 679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 679.64(b)(3)(iv) establishes the CV groundfish sideboard limits in the GOA based on the aggregate retained catch by non-exempt AFA CVs of each sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that species over the same period. NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA CVs from directed fishing for specific groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits (§ 679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 56 to 50 CFR part 679). Sideboard limits not subject to the final rule continue to be calculated and included in the GOA annual harvest specifications. Table 14 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 groundfish sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from the sideboard limits listed in Table 14. TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Ratio of 1995–1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995–1997 TAC Species Apportionments by season/gear Area/component Pollock .............................. A Season January 20–May 31 .... Shumagin (610) ..... Chirikof (620) ......... Kodiak (630) ........... Shumagin (610) ..... Chirikof (620) ......... Kodiak (630) ........... WYK (640) ............. SEO (650) .............. W ............................ C ............................. W ............................ C ............................. W ............................ C ............................. C ............................. E ............................. C ............................. C ............................. C ............................. C ............................. E ............................. C ............................. B Season September 1–November 1. Annual .......................................... Pacific cod ........................ A Season 1 January 1–June 10 ... Flatfish, shallow-water ...... B Season 2 September 1–December 31. Annual .......................................... Flatfish, deep-water .......... Annual .......................................... Rex sole ............................ Arrowtooth flounder .......... Flathead sole .................... Pacific ocean perch .......... Annual Annual Annual Annual Northern rockfish .............. Annual .......................................... .......................................... .......................................... .......................................... .......................................... Proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs 3 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.3495 0.3495 0.1331 0.0692 0.1331 0.0692 0.0156 0.0587 0.0647 0.0128 0.0384 0.0280 0.0213 0.0748 0.0466 0.0277 695 36,294 5,476 15,372 11,420 15,672 4,706 10,148 5,749 10,601 3,275 5,933 13,250 28,442 1,914 3,787 8,912 67,154 15,400 26,234 6,796 3,173 Proposed 2022 and 2023 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 420 4,235 1,111 9,295 1,333 3,178 1,645 3,547 765 734 436 411 207 1,670 124 48 342 1,880 328 1,962 317 88 1 The khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. 2 The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. 3 The Western and Central GOA and WYK District area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs. Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on the aggregate retained VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (§ 679.64(b)(4)(ii)). Table 15 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 non-exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules 68997 TABLE 15–PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 NON-EXEMPT AFA CV HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR VESSELS USING TRAWL GEAR IN THE GOA [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Ratio of 1995–1997 non-exempt AFA CV retained catch to total retained catch Season Season dates Fishery category 1 ........................................ January 20–April 1 ....................... 2 ........................................ April 1–July 1 ............................... 3 ........................................ July 1–August 1 ........................... 4 ........................................ August 1–October 1 ..................... 5 ........................................ October 1–December 31 ............. shallow-water ......... deep-water ............. shallow-water ......... deep-water ............. shallow-water ......... deep-water ............. shallow-water ......... deep-water ............. all targets ............... Annual Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Limitations Section 680.22 establishes groundfish sideboard limits for vessels with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by the Crab Rationalization (CR) Program to expand their level of participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard harvest limits restrict these vessels’ catch to their collective historical landings in each GOA groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). Sideboard limits also apply to landings made using an LLP license derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if Proposed 2022 and 2023 PSC limit Proposed 2022 and 2023 non-exempt AFA CV PSC limit 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.205 384 135 85 256 121 341 53 75 256 131 9 29 18 41 24 18 5 52 Total shallow-water ............................ ............................ 219 Total deep-water .... ............................ ............................ 56 Grand Total, all seasons and categories. ............................ 1,706 328 that LLP license is used on another vessel. The basis for these sideboard harvest limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the CR Program, including Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/ Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP (76 FR 35772, June 20, 2011), Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), and Amendment 45 to the Crab FMP (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015). Also, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that implemented regulations to prohibit non-AFA crab vessels from directed fishing for all groundfish species or species groups subject to sideboard limits, except for Pacific cod apportioned to CVs using pot gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas (§ 680.22(e)(1)(iii)). Accordingly, the GOA annual harvest specifications will include only the nonAFA crab vessel groundfish sideboard limits for Pacific cod apportioned to CVs using pot gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Table 16 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 groundfish sideboard limits for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits. TABLE 16—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Ratio of 1996–2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996–2000 total harvest Proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs Proposed 2022 and 2023 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit Species Season/gear Area/component/ gear Pacific cod ........................ A Season January 1–June 10 ..... Western Pot CV ..... Central Pot CV ....... Western Pot CV ..... 0.0997 0.0474 0.0997 5,749 10,601 3,275 573 502 327 Central Pot CV ....... 0.0474 5,933 281 B Season September 1–December 31. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:37 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 68998 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, CP rockfish sideboard restrictions, and CP opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions (§ 679.82(c)(1)). These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of rockfish harvesters to expand into other fisheries. CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and northern rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(d)). CPs participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These CPs are prohibited from directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and northern rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(e)(2)). Holders of CP-designated LLP licenses that opt out of participating in a Rockfish Program cooperative will be able to access that portion of each rockfish sideboard limits that is not assigned to Rockfish Program cooperatives (§ 679.82(e)(7)). The sideboard ratio for each rockfish fishery in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District is set forth in § 679.82(e)(3) and (e)(4). Table 17 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 Rockfish Program CP rockfish sideboard limits in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District are not displayed. TABLE 17—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 ROCKFISH PROGRAM SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE WESTERN GOA AND WEST YAKUTAT DISTRICT BY FISHERY FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR (CP) SECTOR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area Fishery CP sector (% of TAC) Western GOA ....................................... Dusky rockfish ..................................... Pacific ocean perch ............................. Northern rockfish ................................. Dusky rockfish ..................................... Pacific ocean perch ............................. 72.3 ............................. 50.6 ............................. 74.3 ............................. Confidential.1 .............. Confidential.1 .............. West Yakutat District ............................ 1 Not Proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs 265 1,572 1,926 460 1,631 Proposed 2022 and 2023 CP sideboard limit 192. 795. 1,431. Confidential.1 Confidential.1 released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS and the State of Alaska. Under the Rockfish Program, the CP sector is subject to halibut PSC sideboard limits for the trawl deepwater and shallow-water species fisheries from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(e)(3) and (e)(5)). Halibut PSC sideboard ratios by fishery are set forth in § 679.82(e)(5). No halibut PSC sideboard limits apply to the CV sector, as vessels participating in a rockfish cooperative receive a portion of the annual halibut PSC limit. CPs that opt out of the Rockfish Program would be able to access that portion of the deepwater and shallow-water halibut PSC sideboard limit not assigned to CP rockfish cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for CPs that elect to opt out of participating in a rockfish cooperative are described in § 679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are linked to the catch history of specific vessels that may choose to opt out. After March 1, NMFS will determine which CPs have optedout of the Rockfish Program in 2022, and will know the ratios and amounts used to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any applicable opt-out sideboard limits for 2022 and post these limits on the Alaska Region website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/ sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheriesmanagement-reports#central-goarockfish. Table 18 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 Rockfish Program halibut PSC sideboard limits for the CP sector. TABLE 18—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE CATCHER/ PROCESSOR SECTOR khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Sector Shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Deep-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Catcher/processor ............................................ 0.10 2.50 Amendment 80 Program Groundfish and PSC Sideboard Limits Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) established a limited access VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 Annual halibut PSC limit (mt) Annual shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) Annual deep-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) 1,706 2 43 privilege program for the non-AFA trawl CP sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability of participants eligible for the Amendment PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 80 Program to expand their harvest efforts in the GOA. Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, to amounts no greater than the limits shown in E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules Table 37 to 50 CFR part 679. Under § 679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA. Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 1998 through 2004 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 19 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 groundfish sideboard 68999 limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program vessels from the sideboard limits in Table 19. TABLE 19—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998–2004 catch to TAC Proposed 2022 and 2023 TAC (mt) Proposed 2022 and 2023 Amendment 80 vessel sideboard limits (mt) Species Season Area Pollock .............................. A Season January 20–May 31 .... Shumagin (610) ..... Chirikof (620) ......... Kodiak (630) ........... Shumagin (610) ..... 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.003 695 36,294 5,476 15,372 2 73 11 46 Chirikof (620) ......... Kodiak (630) ........... WYK (640) ............. W ............................ C ............................. W ............................ 0.002 0.002 0.002 0.020 0.044 0.020 11,420 15,672 4,706 5,749 10,601 3,275 23 31 9 115 466 66 C ............................. WYK ....................... W ............................ WYK ....................... W ............................ W ............................ WYK ....................... 0.044 0.034 0.994 0.961 1.000 0.764 0.896 5,933 2,403 1,572 1,631 1,926 265 460 261 82 1,563 1,567 1,926 202 412 B Season September 1–November 1. Pacific cod ........................ Annual .......................................... A Season 1 January 1–June 10 ... B Season 2 September 1–December 31. Pacific ocean perch .......... Annual .......................................... Annual .......................................... Northern rockfish .............. Dusky rockfish .................. Annual .......................................... Annual .......................................... 1 The 2 The 3 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. Western and Central GOA and WYK District area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs. The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels in the GOA are based on the historical use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. These values are slightly lower than the average historical use to accommodate two factors: Allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota under the Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden Fleece from this restriction (§ 679.92(b)(2)). Table 20 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. This table incorporate the maximum percentages of the halibut PSC sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 Program vessels as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679. Any residual amount of a seasonal Amendment 80 halibut PSC sideboard limit may carry forward to the next season limit (§ 679.92(b)(2)). TABLE 20—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS IN THE GOA khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Historic Amendment 80 use of the annual halibut PSC limit (ratio) Season Season dates Fishery category 1 ........................................ January 20–April 1 ....................... 2 ........................................ April 1–July 1 ............................... 3 ........................................ July 1–August 1 ........................... 4 ........................................ August 1–October 1 ..................... 5 ........................................ October 1–December 31 ............. shallow-water ......... deep-water ............. shallow-water ......... deep-water ............. shallow-water ......... deep-water ............. shallow-water ......... deep-water ............. shallow-water ......... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Proposed 2022 and 2023 annual PSC limit (mt) 0.0048 0.0115 0.0189 0.1072 0.0146 0.0521 0.0074 0.0014 0.0227 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 06DEP1 Proposed 2022 and 2023 Amendment 80 vessel PSC sideboard limit (mt) 8 20 32 183 25 89 13 2 39 69000 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 20—PROPOSED 2022 AND 2023 HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS IN THE GOA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Season Season dates Historic Amendment 80 use of the annual halibut PSC limit (ratio) Fishery category deep-water ............. Annual ............................... ...................................................... 1,706 63 Total shallowwater. ............................ ............................ 117 Total deepwater. ............................ ............................ 357 ............................ ............................ 474 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Classification Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 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); § 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. 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 economic impact that 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 receipts not in excess 19:37 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00069 Proposed 2022 and 2023 Amendment 80 vessel PSC sideboard limit (mt) 0.0371 Grand Total, all seasons and categories. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Proposed 2022 and 2023 annual PSC limit (mt) Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 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 699 individual CVs and CPs with gross revenues less than or equal to $11 million. 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 GOA are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI CR Program E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 231 / Monday, December 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 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 696 small CV and 3 small CP entities remaining in the GOA groundfish sector. However, the estimate of these 696 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, and trawl gear CVs are estimated to be $340,000, $650,000, and $1.71 million, respectively. Average gross revenues for CP entities are confidential. 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 Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the GOA. 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 GOA. 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 TACs in these proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2022 TACs in the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications (86 FR 10184; February VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:06 Dec 03, 2021 Jkt 256001 19, 2021), and the sum of all TACs remains within OY for the GOA. 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 most species and species groups in the GOA, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, TACs equal to proposed ABCs, which is intended to maximize harvest opportunities in the GOA. For some species and species groups, however, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes TACs that are less than the proposed ABCs, including for pollock in the W/C/WYK Regulatory Area, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western Regulatory Area, arrowtooth flounder except in the Central Regulatory Area, flathead sole in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, other rockfish in the SEO District, and Atka mackerel. In the GOA, increasing TACs for some species may not result in increased harvest opportunities for those species. This is due to a variety of reasons. There may be a lack of commercial or market interest in some species. Additionally, there are fixed, and therefore constraining, PSC limits associated with the harvest of the GOA groundfish species that can lead to an underharvest of flatfish TACs. For this reason, the shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these target species while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The other rockfish and Atka mackerel TACs are set to accommodate ICAs in other fisheries. Finally, the TACs for two species (pollock and Pacific cod) cannot be set equal to ABC, as the TAC must be reduced to account for the State’s GHLs in these fisheries. The W/C/WYK Regulatory Area pollock TAC and the GOA Pacific cod TACs are therefore set PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 69001 to account for the State’s GHLs for the State water pollock and Pacific cod fisheries so that the ABCs are not exceeded. For most species in the GOA, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, that proposed TACs equal proposed ABCs, unless other conservation or management reasons support proposed TAC amounts less than the proposed ABCs. 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 on small entities. This action is economically beneficial to entities operating in the GOA, including small entities. The action proposes TACs for commercially valuable species in the GOA 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. 2021–26221 Filed 12–3–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 231 (Monday, December 6, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 68982-69001]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-26221]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 211129-0247; RTID 0648-XY118]


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska; 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 Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for 
the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). 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 Gulf of Alaska. 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 GOA in 
accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES: Comments must be received by January 5, 2022.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-
2021-0097, by either of the following methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2021-0097, click the ``Comment Now!'' 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,

[[Page 68983]]

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 (SIR) 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 GOA, dated November 2020, is 
available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) 
at 1007 West Third, Suite 400, 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 GOA will be available from the same source.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in 
the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council 
prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 
U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and 
implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require that NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, specify the total allowable catch (TAC) 
for each target species, the sum of which must be within the optimum 
yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt) (Sec.  
679.20(a)(1)(i)(B)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to 
publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs and 
apportionments thereof, Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) 
limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. The 
proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 20 of this rule 
satisfy these requirements. For 2022 and 2023, the sum of the proposed 
TAC amounts is 409,039 mt.
    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.

Proposed Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications

    In October 2021, the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee 
(SSC), its Advisory Panel (AP), and the Council reviewed the most 
recent biological and harvest information about the condition of the 
GOA groundfish stocks. The Council's GOA Groundfish Plan Team (Plan 
Team) compiled and presented this information in the final 2020 SAFE 
report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2020 (see 
ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific 
analyses and estimates of each species' biomass and other biological 
parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the 
GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries 
off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team recommends, and 
the SSC sets, an Overfishing Limit (OFL) and Acceptable Biological 
Catch (ABC) for each species or species group. The amounts proposed for 
the 2022 and 2023 OFLs and ABCs are based on the 2020 SAFE report. The 
AP and Council recommended that the proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs be set 
equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the 
exception of the species and species groups further discussed below. 
The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs could be changed in the final harvest 
specifications depending on the most recent scientific information 
contained in the final 2021 SAFE report. The stock assessments that 
will comprise, in part, the 2021 SAFE report are available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/population-assessments/north-pacific-groundfish-stock-assessment-and-fishery-evaluation. The final 2021 SAFE 
report will be available from the same source.
    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 public comments in making its recommendations for the final 
2022 and 2023 harvest specifications. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(2) 
and (3), the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if warranted 
based on the biological condition of groundfish stocks or a variety of 
socioeconomic considerations, or if required to cause the sum of TACs 
to fall within the OY range.

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 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 used for producing stock assessments. At the September 2021 Plan 
Team meeting, NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results. 
Scientists also discussed potential changes to assessment models, and 
accompanying preliminary stock estimates. At the October 2021 Council 
meeting, the SSC reviewed this information. The species with potential 
for a significant model change is rock sole. Model changes can result 
in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs.
    In November 2021, the Plan Team will consider updated survey 
results and updated stock assessments for groundfish, which will be 
included in the draft 2021 SAFE report. If the 2021 SAFE report 
indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, 
then the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications for that species 
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.
    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

[[Page 68984]]

calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the tiers to be used to 
calculate OFLs and ABCs. The tiers applicable to a particular stock or 
stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information 
available to the fisheries scientists. This information is categorized 
into a successive series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs, with 
Tier 1 representing the highest level of information quality available 
and Tier 6 representing the lowest level of information quality 
available. The Plan Team used the FMP tier structure to calculate OFLs 
and ABCs for each groundfish species. The SSC adopted the proposed 2022 
and 2023 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish 
species. The proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs are based on the best 
available biological and socioeconomic information. The Council adopted 
the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP's TAC recommendations.

Other Potential Changes: Pacific Cod

    For Pacific cod, there is continued concern among stock assessment 
scientists about the stability of the Pacific cod stock, which may have 
substantial management implications for 2022 and 2023. In November 
2021, NMFS will receive the GOA Pacific cod stock assessment, which 
will include information about this stock's spawning biomass. The 
Steller sea lion harvest control regulations at Sec.  679.20(d)(4) 
state that if a biological assessment of the Pacific cod stock projects 
that the spawning biomass within an area will be equal to or below 20 
percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass during a fishing 
year, the Regional Administrator must prohibit directed fishing within 
that area, and the directed fishery will remain closed until a 
subsequent biological assessment projects that the spawning biomass 
will exceed 20 percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass. 
Also, if Pacific cod spawning biomass falls below the 
B17.5 level, a rebuilding plan will be required to 
comply with provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1854(e)).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs that are equal 
to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception 
of pollock for the combined Western and Central GOA and West Yakutat 
District area, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western GOA, 
arrowtooth flounder in the Western GOA and the West Yakutat and 
Southeast Outside (SEO) Districts, flathead sole in the Western and 
Central GOA, Atka mackerel, and ``other rockfish'' in the SEO District.
    The combined Western and Central Regulatory Areas and the West 
Yakutat (WYK) District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (the W/C/WYK) 
pollock TAC and the GOA Pacific cod TACs are set to account for the 
State of Alaska's (State) guideline harvest levels (GHL) for the State 
water pollock and Pacific cod fisheries so that the ABCs are not 
exceeded. The shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead 
sole TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for 
these target species while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in 
other fisheries. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental 
catch amounts (ICA) in other fisheries. The ``other rockfish'' TAC in 
the SEO District is set to reduce the amount of discards of the species 
in that complex. These reductions are described below.
    NMFS's proposed apportionments of groundfish species are based on 
the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas over which NMFS 
manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of 
pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on 
apportionments of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish are described 
below.
    The ABC for the pollock stock in the W/C/WYK Regulatory Area 
accounts for the GHL established by the State for the Prince William 
Sound (PWS) pollock fishery. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council have 
recommended that the sum of all State water and Federal water pollock 
removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. For 2022 and 
2023, the Council recommended the W/C/WYK pollock ABC include the 
amount to account for the State's PWS GHL. At the November 2018 Plan 
Team meeting, State fisheries managers recommended setting the future 
PWS GHL at 2.5 percent of the annual W/C/WYK pollock ABC. For 2022, 
this yields a PWS pollock GHL of 2,298 mt, a decrease of 345 mt from 
the 2021 PWS GHL of 2,643 mt. After accounting for the PWS GHL, the 
2022 and 2023 pollock ABC for the combined W/C/WYK areas is then 
apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630, and 640) 
as both ABCs and TACs, as described below and detailed in Table 1. The 
total ABCs and TACs for the four statistical areas, plus the State GHL, 
do not exceed the combined W/C/WYK ABC. The proposed W/C/WYK 2022 and 
2023 pollock ABC is 91,934 mt, and the proposed TAC is 89,636 mt.
    Apportionments of pollock to the W/C/WYK management areas are 
considered to be apportionments of annual catch limit (ACL) rather than 
apportionments of ABCs. This more accurately reflects that such 
apportionments address management concerns, rather than biological or 
conservation concerns. In addition, apportionments of the ACL in this 
manner allow NMFS to balance any transfer of TAC among Areas 610, 620, 
and 630 pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the 
combined W/C/WYK ACL, ABC, and TAC are not exceeded.
    NMFS proposes pollock TACs in the Western (Area 610) and Central 
(Areas 620 and 630) Regulatory Areas and the West Yakutat (Area 640) 
and the SEO (Area 650) Districts of the GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also 
proposes seasonal apportionment of the annual pollock TAC in the 
Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among Statistical Areas 
610, 620, and 630. These apportionments are divided equally among the 
following two seasons: the A season (January 20 through May 31) and the 
B season (September 1 through November 1) (Sec. Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) 
and (ii), and 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail is 
provided below; Table 2 lists these amounts.
    The proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate 
the State's GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in PWS (in the Eastern Regulatory 
Area) (see Table 1). The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended 
that the sum of all State water and Federal water Pacific cod removals 
from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the Council 
recommended the 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, 
and Eastern Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. Therefore, the 
proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs are less than the proposed ABCs 
by the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 3,868 mt; (2) Central GOA, 
5,511 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 801 mt. These amounts reflect the 
State's 2022 and 2023 GHLs in these areas, which are 30 percent of the 
Western GOA proposed ABC, and 25 percent of the Eastern and Central GOA 
proposed ABCs.
    The Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs are allocated among 
various gear and operational sectors. NMFS also establishes seasonal 
apportionments of the annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas. The Pacific cod sector and seasonal 
apportionments are discussed in detail in a subsequent section and in 
Table 4 of this rule.

[[Page 68985]]

    The Council's recommendation for sablefish area apportionments 
takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (Sec.  679.7(b)(1)) and makes 
available five percent of the Eastern Regulatory Area (WYK and SEO 
Districts combined) TAC to vessels using trawl gear for use as 
incidental catch in other trawl groundfish fisheries in the WYK 
District (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)). Additional detail is provided below. 
Tables 5 and 6 list the proposed 2022 and 2023 allocations of the 
sablefish TAC to fixed gear and trawl gear in the GOA.
    For 2022 and 2023, the Council recommends and NMFS proposes the 
OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. These 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 are 
adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations. The sum 
of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 409,039 mt for 2022 and 
2023, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. These proposed 
amounts and apportionments by area, season, and sector are subject to 
change pending consideration of the 2021 SAFE report, public comment, 
and the Council's recommendations for the final 2022 and 2023 harvest 
specifications during its December 2021 meeting.

Table 1--Proposed 2022 and 2023 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat, Western, Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas,
              the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, and Gulfwide District of the Gulf of Alaska
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Species                                              Area \1\                                OFL             ABC           TAC \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \2\..................................  Shumagin (610)...........................................             n/a          16,067          16,067
                                               Chirikof (620)...........................................             n/a          47,714          47,714
                                               Kodiak (630).............................................             n/a          21,149          21,149
                                               WYK (640)................................................             n/a           4,706           4,706
                                               W/C/WYK (subtotal).......................................         106,767          91,934          89,636
                                               SEO (650)................................................          13,531          10,148          10,148
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................         120,298         102,082          99,784
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod \3\..............................  W........................................................             n/a          12,892           9,024
                                               C........................................................             n/a          22,045          16,534
                                               E........................................................             n/a           3,204           2,403
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................          46,587          38,141          27,961
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish \4\................................  W........................................................             n/a           4,165           4,165
                                               C........................................................             n/a          11,111          11,111
                                               WYK......................................................             n/a           4,009           4,009
                                               SEO......................................................             n/a           5,946           5,946
                                               E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal)...............................             n/a           9,955           9,955
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................          70,710          25,231          25,231
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shallow-water flatfish \5\...................  W........................................................             n/a          24,460          13,250
                                               C........................................................             n/a          28,442          28,442
                                               WYK......................................................             n/a           2,844           2,844
                                               SEO......................................................             n/a           1,137           1,137
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................          69,691          56,883          45,673
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Deep-water flatfish \6\......................  W........................................................             n/a             225             225
                                               C........................................................             n/a           1,914           1,914
                                               WYK......................................................             n/a           2,068           2,068
                                               SEO......................................................             n/a           1,719           1,719
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................           7,040           5,926           5,926
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rex sole.....................................  W........................................................             n/a           3,013           3,013
                                               C........................................................             n/a           8,912           8,912
                                               WYK......................................................             n/a           1,206           1,206
                                               SEO......................................................             n/a           2,285           2,285
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................          18,779          15,416          15,416
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arrowtooth flounder..........................  W........................................................             n/a          31,479          14,500
                                               C........................................................             n/a          67,154          67,154
                                               WYK......................................................             n/a           8,147           6,900
                                               SEO......................................................             n/a          16,665           6,900
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................         147,515         123,445          95,454
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flathead sole................................  W........................................................             n/a          14,380           8,650
                                               C........................................................             n/a          21,076          15,400
                                               WYK......................................................             n/a           2,456           2,456

[[Page 68986]]

 
                                               SEO......................................................             n/a           1,939           1,939
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................          48,534          39,851          28,445
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch \7\......................  W........................................................             n/a           1,572           1,572
                                               C........................................................             n/a          26,234          26,234
                                               WYK......................................................             n/a           1,631           1,631
                                               W/C/WYK..................................................          34,974          29,437          29,437
                                               SEO......................................................           6,136           5,165           5,165
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................          41,110          34,602          34,602
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern rockfish \8\........................  W........................................................             n/a           1,926           1,926
                                               C........................................................             n/a           3,173           3,173
                                               E........................................................             n/a               1  ..............
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................           6,088           5,100           5,099
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shortraker rockfish \9\......................  W........................................................             n/a              52              52
                                               C........................................................             n/a             284             284
                                               E........................................................             n/a             372             372
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................             944             708             708
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dusky rockfish \10\..........................  W........................................................             n/a             265             265
                                               C........................................................             n/a           4,469           4,469
                                               WYK......................................................             n/a             460             460
                                               SEO......................................................             n/a             101             101
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................           8,423           5,295           5,295
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish \11\......  W........................................................             n/a             170             170
                                               C........................................................             n/a             459             459
                                               E........................................................             n/a             592             592
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................           1,467           1,221           1,221
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Demersal shelf rockfish \12\.................  SEO......................................................             405             257             257
Thornyhead rockfish \13\.....................  W........................................................             n/a             352             352
                                               C........................................................             n/a             910             910
                                               E........................................................             n/a             691             691
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................           2,604           1,953           1,953
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other rockfish 14 15.........................  W/C combined.............................................             n/a             940             940
                                               WYK......................................................             n/a             369             369
                                               SEO......................................................             n/a           2,744             300
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................           5,320           4,053           1,609
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atka mackerel................................  GW.......................................................           6,200           4,700           3,000
Big skates \16\..............................  W........................................................             n/a             758             758
                                               C........................................................             n/a           1,560           1,560
                                               E........................................................             n/a             890             890
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................          4, 278           3,208           3,208
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Longnose skates \17\.........................  W........................................................             n/a             158             158
                                               C........................................................             n/a           1,875           1,875
                                               E........................................................             n/a             554             554
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------
                                                  Total.................................................           3,449           2,587           2,587
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other skates \18\............................  GW.......................................................           1,166             875             875
Sharks.......................................  GW.......................................................           5,006           3,755           3,755
Octopuses....................................  GW.......................................................           1,307             980             980
                                                                                                         -----------------------------------------------

[[Page 68987]]

 
    Total....................................  .........................................................         616,921         476,269         409,039
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West
  Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide).
\2\ The total for the W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas pollock ABC is 91,934 mt. After deducting 2.5 percent (2,298 mt) of that ABC for the State's pollock GHL
  fishery, the remaining pollock ABC of 89,636 mt (for the W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas) is apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630,
  and 640). These apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes. The ACLs in Areas 610,
  620, and 630 are further divided by season, as detailed in Table 2 (proposed 2022 and 2023 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and
  Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal allowances). In the West Yakutat (Area 640) and Southeast Outside (Area 650) Districts of
  the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances.
\3\ The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned, after seasonal apportionment to the jig sector, as follows: (1) 63.84 percent to the A season and 36.16
  percent to the B season and (2) 64.16 percent to the A season and 35.84 percent to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the
  GOA, respectively. The Pacific cod TAC in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA is allocated 90 percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for
  processing by the inshore component and 10 percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component. Table 4 lists the
  proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments and sector allocations.
\4\ The sablefish OFL and ABC are set Alaska-wide (70,710 mt and 36,955 mt, respectively) and the GOA sablefish ABC is 25,231 mt. Additionally,
  sablefish is allocated only to trawl gear in 2023. Tables 5 and 6 list the proposed 2022 and 2023 allocations of sablefish TACs.
\5\ ``Shallow-water flatfish'' means flatfish not including ``deep-water flatfish,'' flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder.
\6\ ``Deep-water flatfish'' means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deepsea sole.
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.
\8\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 1 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern
  Regulatory Area has been included in the ``other rockfish'' species group.
\9\ ``Shortraker rockfish'' means Sebastes borealis.
\10\ ``Dusky rockfish'' means Sebastes variabilis.
\11\ ``Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish'' means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\12\ ``Demersal shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper), S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus
  (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye).
\13\ ``Thornyhead rockfish'' means Sebastolobus species.
\14\ ``Other rockfish means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri
  (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S.
  zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus
  (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, ``other rockfish'' also includes
  northern rockfish (S. polyspinous).
\15\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District of the Eastern Regulatory Area means all rockfish
  species included in the ``other rockfish'' and demersal shelf rockfish categories. The ``other rockfish'' species group in the SEO District only
  includes other rockfish.
\16\ ``Big skates'' means Raja binoculata.
\17\ ``Longnose skates'' means Raja rhina.
\18\ ``Other skates'' means Bathyraja and Raja spp.

Proposed Apportionment of Reserves

    Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each 
TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sharks, and octopuses in 
reserve for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing 
year. Section 679.20(b)(3) authorizes NMFS to reapportion all or part 
of these reserves. In 2021, NMFS reapportioned all of the reserves in 
the final harvest specifications. For 2022 and 2023, NMFS proposes 
reapportionment of each of the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, 
flatfish, sharks, and octopuses back into the original TAC from which 
the reserve was derived. NMFS expects, based on recent harvest 
patterns, that such reserves will not be necessary and that the entire 
TAC for each of these species will be caught or are needed to promote 
efficient fisheries. The TACs in Table 1 reflect this proposed 
reapportionment of reserve amounts to the original TAC for these 
species and species groups, i.e., each proposed TAC for the above-
mentioned species or species groups contains the full TAC recommended 
by the Council.

Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory 
Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore 
Components

    In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is 
further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified 
for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned 
into two seasonal allowances of 50 percent. As established by Sec.  
679.23(d)(2)(i) through (ii), the A and B season allowances are 
available from January 20 through May 31 and September 1 through 
November 1, respectively.
    The GOA pollock stock assessment continues to use a four-season 
methodology to determine pollock distribution in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA to maintain continuity in the 
historical pollock apportionment time-series. Pollock TACs in the 
Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are apportioned among 
Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630 in proportion to the distribution 
of pollock biomass determined by the most recent NMFS surveys, pursuant 
to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). The pollock chapter of the 2020 SAFE 
report (see ADDRESSES) contains a comprehensive description of the 
apportionment and reasons for the minor changes from past 
apportionments. For purposes of specifying pollock between two seasons 
for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, NMFS has 
summed the A and B season apportionments and the C and D season 
apportionments as calculated in the 2020 GOA pollock assessment. This 
yields the seasonal amounts specified for the A season and the B 
season, respectively.
    Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance 
is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, 
subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the

[[Page 68988]]

Regional Administrator (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount 
is limited to 20 percent of the subsequent seasonal TAC apportionment 
for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20-percent 
limit could be further distributed to the subsequent season in the 
other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass to the 
subsequent season and in an amount no more than 20 percent of the 
seasonal TAC apportionment in those statistical areas (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2022 and 2023 pollock TACs in the 
WYK District of 4,706 mt and the SEO District of 10,148 mt are not 
allocated by season.
    Table 2 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 area apportionments and 
seasonal allowances of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory 
Areas. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and 
offshore components are not shown. Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires 
allocation of 100 percent of the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas 
and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing 
by the inshore component after subtraction of amounts projected by the 
Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore 
component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. 
Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting 
pollock for processing by the offshore component is the amount that 
will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for 
groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable 
amounts allowed by Sec.  679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these ICAs of 
pollock are unknown and will be determined during the fishing year 
during the course of fishing activities by the offshore component.

 Table 2--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the Gulf
                    of Alaska; Area Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC \1\
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Shumigan (Area  Chirikof (Area   Kodiak (Area
                   Season \2\                          610)            620)            630)          Total \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A (January 20-May 31)...........................             695          36,294           5,476          42,465
B (September 1-November 1)......................          15,372          11,420          15,672          42,465
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total................................          16,067          47,714          21,149          84,929
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding.
\2\ As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (ii), the A and B season allowances are available from
  January 20 through May 31 and September 1 through November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for
  processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table.
\3\ The West Yakutat and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not
  included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table.

Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS proposes allocations for 
the 2022 and 2023 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. NMFS 
also proposes seasonal apportionments of the Pacific cod TACs in the 
Western and Central Regulatory Areas. A portion of the annual TAC is 
apportioned to the A season for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear from 
January 1 through June 10, and for trawl gear from January 20 through 
June 10. The remainder of the annual TAC is apportioned to the B season 
for jig gear from June 10 through December 31, for hook-and-line and 
pot gear from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from 
September 1 through November 1 (Sec. Sec.  679.23(d)(3) and 
679.20(a)(12)). NMFS also proposes allocating the 2022 and 2023 Pacific 
cod TACs annually between the inshore (90 percent) and offshore (10 
percent) components in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA (Sec.  
679.20(a)(6)(ii)).
    In the Western GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally 
first to vessels using jig gear, and then among catcher vessels (CV) 
using hook-and-line gear, catcher/processors (CP) using hook-and-line 
gear, CVs using trawl gear, CPs using trawl gear, and vessels using pot 
gear (Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A)). In the Central GOA, the Pacific cod 
TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then 
among CVs less than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, 
CVs equal to or greater than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-
line gear, CPs using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, CPs 
using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear (Sec.  
679.20(a)(12)(i)(B)). Excluding seasonal apportionments to the jig gear 
sector, NMFS proposes apportioning the remainder of the annual Pacific 
cod TACs as follows: the seasonal apportionments of the annual TAC in 
the Western GOA are 63.84 percent to the A season and 36.16 percent to 
the B season, and in the Central GOA are 64.16 percent to the A season 
and 35.84 percent to the B season.
    Under Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the 
Pacific cod allowance from the A season may be subtracted from, or 
added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion 
of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that is 
determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be 
reallocated to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the 
fishing year.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the 
annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be 
allocated to vessels with a Federal fisheries permit that use jig gear 
before the TACs are apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In 
accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase 
to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod 
TACs, depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (see Table 
1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig 
sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). Jig sector 
allocation increases are established for a minimum of two years.
    NMFS has evaluated the historical harvest performance of the jig 
sector in the Western and Central GOA, and is proposing the 2022 and 
2023 Pacific cod apportionments to this sector based on its historical 
harvest performance through 2021. NMFS did not evaluate the 2020 
performance of the jig sectors in the Western and Central GOA. In 2020, 
the catch for the jig sectors could not reach 90 percent of the initial 
allocation required for a performance increase because NMFS prohibited

[[Page 68989]]

directed fishing for all Pacific cod sectors (84 FR 70438, December 23, 
2019). For 2022 and 2023, NMFS proposes that the jig sector receive 3.5 
percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. The 2022 and 
2023 allocations consist of a base allocation of 1.5 percent of the 
Western GOA Pacific cod TAC, and prior historical harvest performance 
increases of 2.0 percent. For 2022 and 2023, NMFS also proposes that 
the jig sector receive 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the 
Central GOA. The 2022 and 2023 allocations consist of a base allocation 
of 1.0 percent, and no additional performance increase in the Central 
GOA. The 2014 through 2021 Pacific cod jig allocations, catch, and 
percent allocation changes are listed in Table 3.

    Table 3--Summary of Western GOA and Central GOA Pacific Cod Catch by Jig Gear in 2014 Through 2021, and Corresponding Percent Allocation Changes
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Initial                                Percent of
               Area                   Year     percent     Initial TAC     Catch        initial          >90% of initial           Change to percent
                                                of TAC     allocation       (mt)      allocation           allocation?                 allocation
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA......................       2014        2.5             573        785             137  Y........................  Increase 1.
                                        2015        3.5             948         55               6  N........................  None.
                                        2016        3.5             992         52               5  N........................  Decrease 1.
                                        2017        2.5             635         49               8  N........................  Decrease 1.
                                        2018        1.5             125        121              97  Y........................  Increase 1.
                                        2019        2.5             134        134             100  Y........................  Increase 1.
                                        2020        n/a
                                        2021        3.5             195         26              13  N........................  None.
Central GOA......................       2014        2.0             797        262              33  N........................  Decrease 1.
                                        2015        1.0             460        355              77  N........................  None.
                                        2016        1.0             370        267              72  N........................  None.
                                        2017        1.0             331         18               6  N........................  None.
                                        2018        1.0              61          0               0  N........................  None.
                                        2019        1.0              58         30              52  N........................  None.
                                        2020        n/a
                                        2021        1.0             102         26              26  N........................  None.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NMFS will re-evaluate the annual 2021 harvest performance of the 
jig sector in the Western and Central GOA when the 2021 fishing year is 
complete to determine whether to change the jig sector allocations 
proposed by this action in conjunction with the final 2022 and 2023 
harvest specifications. The current catch through October 2021 by the 
Western GOA jig sector indicates that the Pacific cod allocation 
percentage to this sector would probably not change in 2022, and would 
remain at 3.5 percent. Also, the current catch by the Central GOA jig 
sector indicates that this sector's Pacific cod allocation percentage 
would not change in 2022, and would remain at 1 percent. For 2022 and 
2023, NMFS proposes apportioning the jig sector allocations for the 
Western and Central GOA between the A season (60 percent) and the B 
season (40 percent) (Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)). Table 4 lists the 
seasonal apportionments and allocations of the proposed 2022 and 2023 
Pacific cod TACs.

    Table 4--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocations of Pacific Cod TAC Amounts in the GOA; Allocations in the Western GOA and
                                   Central GOA Sectors, and the Eastern GOA Inshore and Offshore Processing Components
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                 A Season                           B Season
                                                                        Annual     ---------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Regulatory area and sector                        allocation    Sector percentage     Seasonal     Sector percentage     Seasonal
                                                                         (mt)       of annual non-jig    allowances    of annual non-jig    allowances
                                                                                           TAC              (mt)              TAC              (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA:
    Jig (3.5% of TAC).............................................             316                N/A             190                N/A             126
    Hook-and-line CV..............................................             122               0.70              61               0.70              61
    Hook-and-line CP..............................................           1,724              10.90             949               8.90             775
    Trawl CV......................................................           3,344              31.54           2,747               6.86             597
    Trawl CP......................................................             209               0.90              78               1.50             131
    Pot CV and Pot CP.............................................           3,309              19.80           1,724              18.20           1,585
                                                                   -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total.....................................................           9,024              63.84           5,749              36.16           3,275
Central GOA:
    Jig (1.0% of TAC).............................................             165                N/A              99                N/A              66
    Hook-and-line <50 CV..........................................           2,390               9.32           1,525               5.29             865
    Hook-and-line >=50 CV.........................................           1,098               5.61             918               1.10             180
    Hook-and-line CP..............................................             836               4.11             672               1.00             163
    Trawl CV \1\..................................................           6,807              25.29           4,140              16.29           2,667
    Trawl CP......................................................             687               2.00             328               2.19             359
    Pot CV and Pot CP.............................................           4,551              17.83           2,918               9.97           1,633
                                                                   -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total.....................................................          16,534              64.16          10,601              35.84           5,933
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                       Inshore (90% of Annual TAC)
                                                                       Offshore (10% of Annual TAC)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 68990]]

 
Eastern GOA.......................................................           2,403                2,163
                                                                                   240
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Trawl catcher vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 630 mt, of the annual Central GOA Pacific cod TAC (see
  Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679). This apportionment is deducted from the Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table 9: Proposed 2022 and 2023 Apportionments
  of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679).

Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TAC Amounts to Vessels Using 
Fixed Gear and Trawl Gear

    Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) requires allocations of sablefish 
TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to fixed and trawl 
gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each 
TAC is allocated to fixed gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated 
to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is 
allocated to fixed gear, and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The 
trawl gear allocation in the Eastern Regulatory Area may be used only 
to support incidental catch of sablefish while directed fishing for 
other target species using trawl gear (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)).
    In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and 
NMFS proposes specifying for incidental catch the allocation of 5 
percent of the Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish (WYK and SEO Districts 
combined) TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District of the Eastern 
Regulatory Area. The remainder of the WYK District sablefish TAC is 
allocated to vessels using fixed gear. This proposed action allocates 
100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using 
fixed gear. This results in proposed 2022 allocations of 498 mt to 
trawl gear and 3,511 mt to fixed gear in the WYK District, a proposed 
2022 allocation of 5,946 mt to fixed gear in the SEO District, and a 
proposed 2023 allocation of 498 mt to trawl gear in the WYK District. 
Table 5 lists the allocations of the proposed 2022 sablefish TACs to 
fixed and trawl gear. Table 6 lists the allocations of the proposed 
2023 sablefish TACs to trawl gear.
    The Council recommended that the trawl sablefish TAC be established 
for two years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by 
trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of the 
groundfish harvest specifications. Tables 5 and 6 list the proposed 
2022 and 2023 trawl allocations, respectively.
    The Council also recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be 
established annually to ensure that the sablefish individual fishing 
quota (IFQ) fishery is conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ 
fishery and is based on the most recent survey information. Since there 
is an annual assessment for sablefish and since the final harvest 
specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season 
begins (typically, in early March), the Council recommended that the 
fixed gear sablefish TAC be set annually, rather than for two years, so 
that the best available scientific information could be considered in 
establishing the sablefish ABCs and TACs. Accordingly, Table 5 lists 
the proposed 2022 fixed gear allocations, and the 2023 fixed gear 
allocations will be specified in the 2023 and 2024 harvest 
specifications.
    With the exception of the trawl allocations that are provided to 
the Rockfish Program (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), directed 
fishing for sablefish with trawl gear is closed during the fishing 
year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior 
to January 20 (Sec.  679.23(c)). Therefore, it is not likely that the 
sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the 
effective date of the final 2023 and 2024 harvest specifications.

   Table 5--Proposed 2022 Sablefish TAC Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocations to Fixed and Trawl Gear
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Area/district                        TAC             Fixed gear allocation       Trawl allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western..............................                    4,165                    3,332                      833
Central \1\..........................                   11,111                    8,889                    2,222
West Yakutat \2\.....................                    4,009                    3,511                      498
Southeast Outside....................                    5,946                    5,946                        0
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total............................                   25,231                   21,678                    3,553
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The proposed trawl allocation of sablefish to the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the
  Rockfish Program cooperatives (1,143 mt). See Table 9: Proposed 2022 and 2023 Apportionments of Rockfish
  Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 1,079 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program
  trawl fisheries.
\2\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat
  and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC as incidental catch to trawl gear in the West Yakutat
  District.


[[Page 68991]]


       Table 6--Proposed 2023 Sablefish TAC Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocation to Trawl Gear \1\
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Area/district                        TAC             Fixed gear allocation       Trawl allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western..............................                    4,165                      n/a                      833
Central \2\..........................                   11,111                      n/a                    2,222
West Yakutat \3\.....................                    4,009                      n/a                      498
Southeast Outside....................                    5,946                      n/a                        0
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total............................                   25,231                      n/a                    3,553
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Council recommended that the proposed 2023 harvest specifications for the fixed gear sablefish
  Individual Fishing Quota fisheries not be specified in the proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications.
\2\ The proposed trawl allocation of sablefish to the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the
  Rockfish Program cooperatives (1,143 mt). See Table 9: Proposed 2022 and 2023 Apportionments of Rockfish
  Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 1,079 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program
  trawl fisheries.
\3\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat
  and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC as incidental catch to trawl gear in the West Yakutat
  District.

Proposed Allocations, Apportionments, and Sideboard Limitations for the 
Rockfish Program

    These proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications for the GOA 
include the fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations 
established by the Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily 
trawl CVs and trawl CPs, with limited participation by vessels using 
longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative 
quota to trawl participants for primary species (Pacific ocean perch, 
northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) and secondary species (Pacific 
cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead 
rockfish), allows a participant holding a license limitation program 
(LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative 
with other persons, and allows holders of CP LLP licenses to opt out of 
the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for 
rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear. Longline gear 
includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear.
    Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species in the Central 
GOA are allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch 
needs in other directed fisheries (Sec.  679.81(a)(2)). Participants in 
the Rockfish Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of 
specific secondary species. In addition to groundfish species, the 
Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the halibut PSC limit (191 mt) 
from the third season deep-water species fishery allowance for the GOA 
trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants (Sec.  679.81(d) and 
Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679). The Rockfish Program also establishes 
sideboard limits to restrict the ability of harvesters operating under 
the Rockfish Program to increase their participation in other, non-
Rockfish Program fisheries. These restrictions and halibut PSC limits 
are discussed in a subsequent section in this rule titled ``Rockfish 
Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations.''
    Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) and Table 28e to 50 CFR part 679 require 
allocations of 5 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, 
and 50 mt of dusky rockfish to the entry level longline fishery in 2022 
and 2023. The allocation for the entry level longline fishery may 
increase incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the 
allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation 
would continue each year until it reaches the maximum percentage of the 
TAC for that species. In 2021, the catch for all three primary species 
did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. Therefore, 
NMFS is not proposing any increases to the entry level longline fishery 
2022 and 2023 allocations in the Central GOA. The remainder of the TACs 
for the rockfish primary species, after subtracting the ICAs, would be 
allocated to the CV and CP cooperatives (Sec.  679.81(a)(2)(iii)). 
Table 7 lists the allocations of the proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs for 
each rockfish primary species to the entry level longline fishery, the 
potential incremental increases for future years, and the maximum 
percentages of the TACs for the entry level longline fishery.

 Table 7--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species to the Entry Level Longline Fishery in
                                           the Central Gulf of Alaska
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Incremental increase in
                                        Proposed 2022 and 2023   2023 if >90 percent of   Up to maximum percent
       Rockfish primary species          allocations (metric       2022 allocation is         of each TAC of
                                                tons)           harvested (metric tons)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch..................                        5                        5                        1
Northern rockfish....................                        5                        5                        2
Dusky rockfish.......................                       50                       20                        5
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 679.81 requires allocations of rockfish primary species 
among various sectors of the Rockfish Program. Table 8 lists the 
proposed 2022 and 2023 allocations of rockfish primary species in the 
Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery, and rockfish CV and CP 
cooperatives in the Rockfish Program. NMFS also proposes setting aside 
ICAs for other directed fisheries in the Central GOA of 2,500 mt of 
Pacific ocean perch, 300 mt of northern rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky 
rockfish. These amounts are based on recent

[[Page 68992]]

average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other groundfish 
fisheries.
    Allocations among vessels belonging to CV or CP cooperatives are 
not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program 
applications for CV cooperatives and CP cooperatives are not due to 
NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year; therefore, NMFS cannot 
calculate 2022 and 2023 allocations in conjunction with these proposed 
harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2022 allocations on the 
Alaska Region website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheries-management-reports#central-goa-rockfish when they become available after March 1.

  Table 8--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species in the Central Gulf of Alaska to the
                 Entry Level Longline Fishery and Rockfish Cooperatives in the Rockfish Program
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Incidental                     Allocation to   Allocation to
                                    Central GOA        catch                         the entry     the rockfish
    Rockfish primary species            TAC          allowance     TAC minus ICA  level longline   Cooperatives
                                                       (ICA)                        \1\ fishery         \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.............          26,234           2,500          23,734               5          23,729
Northern rockfish...............           3,173             300           2,873               5           2,868
Dusky rockfish..................           4,469             250           4,219              50           4,169
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................          33,876           3,050          30,826              60          30,766
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (50 CFR 679.2).
\2\ Rockfish cooperatives include vessels in CV and CP cooperatives (50 CFR 679.81).

    Section 679.81(c) and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679 requires 
allocations of rockfish secondary species to CV and CP cooperatives in 
the Central GOA. CV cooperatives receive allocations of Pacific cod, 
sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. CP 
cooperatives receive allocations of sablefish from the trawl gear 
allocation, rougheye and blackspotted rockfish, shortraker rockfish, 
and thornyhead rockfish. Table 9 lists the apportionments of the 
proposed 2022 and 2023 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the 
Central GOA to CV and CP cooperatives.

   Table 9--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA to Catcher
                                    Vessel and Catcher/Processor Cooperatives
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Catcher Vessel cooperatives   Catcher/processor cooperatives
                                    Central GOA  ---------------------------------------------------------------
   Rockfish secondary species       annual TAC     Percentage of   Apportionment   Percentage of   Apportionment
                                                        TAC            (mt)             TAC            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod.....................          16,534            3.81             630            0.00               0
Sablefish.......................          11,111            6.78             753            3.51             390
Shortraker rockfish.............             284            0.00               0           40.00             114
Rougheye and blackspotted                    459            0.00               0           58.87             270
 rockfish.......................
Thornyhead rockfish.............             910            7.84              71           26.50             241
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut PSC Limits

    Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the 
establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October 2021, the 
Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, halibut PSC limits of 1,706 mt 
for trawl gear, 257 mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the 
demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District for both 2022 
and 2023.
    The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at Sec.  
679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut 
PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish 
(Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(i)(A)). The separate halibut PSC limit for the DSR 
fishery is intended to prevent that fishery from being impacted from 
the halibut PSC incurred by other GOA fisheries. NMFS estimates low 
halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because: (1) The duration of the DSR 
fisheries and the gear soak times are short; (2) the DSR fishery occurs 
in the winter when there is less overlap in the distribution of DSR and 
halibut; and (3) the directed commercial DSR fishery has a low DSR TAC. 
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the commercial GHL for the 
DSR fishery after deducting: (1) Estimates of DSR incidental catch in 
all fisheries (including halibut and subsistence); and (2) the 
allocation to the DSR sport fish fishery. In 2021, the commercial 
fishery for DSR was closed due to concerns about declining DSR biomass.
    The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the 
halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes 
to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear 
fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2022 and 
2023. The Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, these exemptions 
because (1) pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch 
mortality; (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if 
any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ 
for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the 
vessel is operating (Sec.  679.7(f)(11)); (3) some sablefish IFQ permit 
holders hold halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain 
the

[[Page 68993]]

halibut they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ; and (4) NMFS estimates 
negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries given the small 
amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective nature of jig 
gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released with 
jig gear.
    The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch 
consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2021. The 
calculated halibut bycatch mortality through November 6, 2021 is 313 mt 
for trawl gear and 59 mt for hook-and-line gear, for a total halibut 
mortality of 372 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using 
groundfish and IFQ halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region's 
catch accounting system. This accounting system contains historical and 
recent catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish and IFQ 
halibut fishery.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally 
apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. 
The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the 
following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: 
(1) Seasonal distribution of halibut; (2) seasonal distribution of 
target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution; (3) 
expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes 
in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species; (4) 
expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis; (5) expected changes in 
directed groundfish fishing seasons; (6) expected actual start of 
fishing effort; and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal 
halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. 
Based on public comment, information presented in the 2021 SAFE report, 
NMFS catch data, State catch data, or International Pacific Halibut 
Commission (IPHC) stock assessment and mortality data, the Council may 
recommend or NMFS may make changes to the seasonal, gear-type, or 
fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC limits for the final 
2022 and 2023 harvest specifications pursuant to Sec.  679.21(d)(1) and 
(d)(4).
    The final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications (86 FR 10184, 
February 19, 2021) summarized the Council's and NMFS's findings for 
these FMP and regulatory considerations with respect to halibut PSC 
limits. The Council's and NMFS's proposed findings for these proposed 
2022 and 2023 harvest specifications are unchanged from the final 2021 
and 2022 harvest specifications. Table 10 lists the proposed 2022 and 
2023 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. The 
halibut PSC limits in Tables 10, 11, and 12 reflect the halibut PSC 
limits set forth at Sec.  679.21(d)(2) and (3). Section 
679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specifies that any underages or overages of 
a seasonal apportionment of a halibut PSC limit will be added to or 
deducted from the next respective seasonal apportionment within the 
fishing year.

                               Table 10--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Pacific Halibut PSC Limits, Allowances, and Apportionments
                                                               [Values are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                           Trawl gear                                                             Hook-and-line gear \1\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Other than DSR                                    DSR
             Season                   Percent         Amount     ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                        Season            Percent         Amount            Season            Percent
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1..............            30.5             519  January 1-June 10.              86             221  January 1-December               9
                                                                                                                       31.
April 1-July 1..................              20             341  June 10-September                2               5
                                                                   1.
July 1-August 1.................              27             462  September 1-                    12              31
                                                                   December 31.
August 1-October 1..............             7.5             128
October 1-December 31...........              15             256
                                 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................  ..............           1,706  ..................  ..............             257  ..................               9
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO
  District and to hook-and-line fisheries other than the DSR fishery. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes that the hook-and-line sablefish IFQ
  fishery, and the pot and jig gear groundfish fisheries, be exempt from halibut PSC limits.

    Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the 
trawl halibut PSC limit as bycatch allowances to trawl fishery 
categories listed in Sec.  679.21(d)(3)(iii). The annual apportionments 
are based on each category's share of the anticipated halibut bycatch 
mortality during a fishing year and optimization of the total amount of 
groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories 
for the trawl halibut PSC limits are: (1) A deep-water species fishery, 
composed of sablefish, rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and 
arrowtooth flounder; and (2) a shallow-water species fishery, composed 
of pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka 
mackerel, skates, and ``other species'' (sharks and octopuses) (Sec.  
679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Halibut mortality incurred while directed fishing 
for skates with trawl gear accrues towards the shallow-water species 
fishery halibut PSC limit (69 FR 26320, May 12, 2004).
    NMFS will combine available trawl halibut PSC limit apportionments 
in part of the second season deep-water and shallow-water species 
fisheries for use in either fishery from May 15 through June 30 (Sec.  
679.21(d)(4)(iii)(D)). This is intended to maintain groundfish harvest 
while minimizing halibut bycatch by these sectors to the extent 
practicable. This provides the trawl gear deep-water and shallow-water 
species fisheries additional flexibility and the incentive to 
participate in fisheries at times of the year that may have lower 
halibut PSC rates relative to other times of the year.
    Table 11 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 seasonal apportionments 
of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl gear deep-water and the 
shallow-water species fisheries.
    Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl 
halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and CP sectors that are 
participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt 
of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to 
the CP sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water 
species fishery's halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment. After the 
combined CV and CP halibut PSC limit allocation of 191 mt to the 
Rockfish Program, 150 mt remains for the trawl deep-water species 
fishery's halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC 
limit allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be re-
apportioned to the general GOA trawl

[[Page 68994]]

fisheries for the last seasonal apportionment during the current 
fishing year to no more than 55 percent of the unused annual halibut 
PSC limit apportioned to Rockfish Program participants. The remainder 
of the unused Rockfish Program halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use 
by any person for the remainder of the fishing year (Sec.  
679.21(d)(4)(iii)(C)).

Table 11--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Apportionment of the Pacific Halibut PSC Limits Between the Trawl Gear Shallow-
                                 Water and Deep-Water Species Fishery Categories
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Season                                Shallow-water  Deep-water \1\       Total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1..............................................             384             135             519
April 1-July 1..................................................              85             256             341
July 1-August 1.................................................             121             341             462
August 1-October 1..............................................              53              75             128
Subtotal, January 20-October 1..................................             643             807           1,450
October 1-December 31 \2\.......................................  ..............  ..............             256
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................  ..............  ..............           1,706
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Central GOA Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third
  season (July 1 through August 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment.
\2\ There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries during the fifth
  season (October 1 through December 31).

    Section 679.21(d)(2)(i)(B) requires that the ``other hook-and-line 
fishery'' halibut PSC limit apportionment to vessels using hook-and-
line gear must be apportioned between CVs and CPs in accordance with 
Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these harvest 
specifications. A comprehensive description and example of the 
calculations necessary to apportion the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' 
halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and CP sectors were 
included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 
FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and are not repeated here.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii), the hook-and-line halibut PSC 
limit for the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' is apportioned between 
the CV and CP sectors in proportion to the total Western and Central 
GOA Pacific cod allocations, which vary annually based on the 
proportion of the Pacific cod biomass between the Western, Central, and 
Eastern GOA. Pacific cod is apportioned among these three management 
areas based on the percentage of overall biomass per area, as 
calculated in the 2020 Pacific cod stock assessment. Updated 
information in the final 2020 SAFE report describes this distributional 
calculation, which allocates ABC among GOA regulatory areas on the 
basis of the three most recent stock surveys. For 2022 and 2023, the 
proposed distribution of the total GOA Pacific cod ABC is 32 percent to 
the Western GOA, 59 percent to the Central GOA, and 9 percent to the 
Eastern GOA. Therefore, the calculations made in accordance with Sec.  
679.21(d)(2)(iii) incorporate the most recent information on GOA 
Pacific cod distribution and allocations with respect to the proposed 
annual halibut PSC limits for the CV and CP hook-and-line sectors. 
Additionally, the annual halibut PSC limits for both the CV and CP 
sectors of the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' are proposed to be 
divided into three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal percentages 
of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent.
    For 2022 and 2023, NMFS proposes annual halibut PSC limits of 144 
mt and 113 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line CP sectors, 
respectively. Table 12 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 apportionments 
of halibut PSC limits between the hook-and-line CV and the hook-and-
line CP sectors of the ``other hook-and-line fishery.''
    No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS will calculate the 
projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the CV or CP 
hook-and-line sectors of the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' for the 
remainder of the year. The projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit 
is made available to the other hook-and-line sector for the remainder 
of that fishing year (Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)), if NMFS determines 
that an additional amount of halibut PSC is necessary for that sector 
to continue its directed fishing operations.

    Table 12--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Apportionments of the ``Other hook-and-line fishery'' Annual Halibut PSC
              Allowance Between the Hook-and-Line Gear Catcher Vessel and Catcher/Processor Sectors
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Sector
   ``Other than DSR''        Hook-and-line     Sector annual        Season           Seasonal        seasonal
        allowance               sector            amount                            percentage        amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
257.....................  Catcher Vessel....             144  January 1-June 10.              86             124
                                                              June 10-September                2               3
                                                               1.
                                                              September 1-                    12              17
                                                               December 31.
                          Catcher/Processor.             113  January 1-June 10.              86              97
                                                              June 10-September                2               2
                                                               1.
                                                              September 1-                    12              14
                                                               December 31.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 68995]]

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 (DMR), 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 GOA stock 
assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an 
appendix to the annual GOA groundfish SAFE report.
    In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the 
Council's directive. An interagency halibut working group (IPHC, 
Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that 
have undergone review by the Plan Team, the SSC, and the Council. A 
summary of the revised methodology is contained in the GOA proposed 
2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87881, 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 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 two-year reference period. 
Comparing the proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs to the final DMRs from the 
final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications, the proposed DMR for 
Rockfish Program CVs using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 66 
percent from 60 percent, the proposed DMR for CVs using hook-and-line 
gear decreased to 12 percent from 13 percent, the proposed DMR for 
motherships and CPs using non-pelagic trawl gear decreased to 83 
percent from 84 percent, and the proposed DMR for CPs and CVs using pot 
gear increased to 29 percent from 10 percent. Table 13 lists the 
proposed 2022 and 2023 DMRs.

        Table 13--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Discard Mortality Rates for Vessels Fishing in the Gulf of Alaska
                               [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Halibut
                                                                                                      discard
                 Gear                               Sector                 Groundfish fishery     mortality rate
                                                                                                     (percent)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pelagic trawl.........................  Catcher vessel................  All.....................             100
                                        Catcher/processor.............  All.....................             100
Non-pelagic trawl.....................  Catcher vessel................  Rockfish Program........              66
                                        Catcher vessel................  All others..............              69
                                        Mothership and catcher/         All.....................              83
                                         processor.
Hook-and-line.........................  Catcher/processor.............  All.....................              15
                                        Catcher vessel................  All.....................              12
Pot...................................  Catcher vessel and catcher/     All.....................              29
                                         processor.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limits

    Section 679.21(h)(2) establishes separate Chinook salmon PSC limits 
in the Western and Central regulatory areas of the GOA in the trawl 
pollock directed fishery. These limits require that NMFS close directed 
fishing for pollock in the Western and Central GOA if the applicable 
Chinook salmon PSC limit is reached (Sec.  679.21(h)(8)). The annual 
Chinook salmon PSC limits in the trawl pollock directed fishery of 
6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the Central GOA 
are set in Sec.  679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii).
    Section 679.21(h)(3) established an initial annual PSC limit of 
7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock groundfish trawl fisheries in 
the Western and Central GOA. This limit is apportioned among the three 
sectors that conduct directed fishing for groundfish species other than 
pollock: 3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl CPs; 1,200 Chinook salmon to 
trawl CVs participating in the Rockfish Program; and 2,700 Chinook 
salmon to trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program (Sec.  
679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will monitor the Chinook salmon PSC in the trawl 
non-pollock GOA groundfish fisheries and close an applicable sector if 
it reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit.
    The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl CPs and trawl 
CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program, may be increased in 
subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and 
their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook salmon 
PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limit its use of 
Chinook salmon PSC to a certain threshold amount in 2021 (3,120 for 
trawl CPs and 2,340 for non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs), that sector 
will receive an increase to its 2022 Chinook salmon PSC limit (4,080 
for trawl CPs and 3,060 for non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs) (Sec.  
679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will evaluate the annual Chinook salmon PSC by 
trawl CPs and non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs when the 2021 fishing year 
is complete to determine whether to increase the Chinook salmon PSC 
limits for these two sectors. Based on preliminary 2021 Chinook salmon 
PSC data, the trawl CP sector may receive an incremental increase of 
Chinook salmon PSC limit in 2022, and the non-Rockfish Program trawl CV

[[Page 68996]]

sector will not receive an incremental increase of Chinook salmon PSC 
limit in 2022. This evaluation will be completed in conjunction with 
the final 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications.

American Fisheries Act (AFA) CP and CV Groundfish Harvest and PSC 
Limits

    Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing 
sideboard limits on AFA CPs and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits 
are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who 
do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and 
processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges 
under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA CPs and CPs 
designated on a listed AFA CP permit from harvesting any species of 
fish in the GOA. Additionally, Sec.  679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed 
AFA CPs and CPs designated on a listed AFA CP permit from processing 
any pollock harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any 
groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.
    AFA CVs that are less than 125 feet (38.1 meters) length overall, 
have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA 
groundfish from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA CV groundfish 
sideboard limits under Sec.  679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for 
non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest 
levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 
679.64(b)(3)(iv) establishes the CV groundfish sideboard limits in the 
GOA based on the aggregate retained catch by non-exempt AFA CVs of each 
sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that 
species over the same period.
    NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that 
implemented regulations to prohibit non-exempt AFA CVs from directed 
fishing for specific groundfish species or species groups subject to 
sideboard limits (Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iv)(D) and Table 56 to 50 CFR part 
679). Sideboard limits not subject to the final rule continue to be 
calculated and included in the GOA annual harvest specifications.
    Table 14 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 groundfish sideboard 
limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or 
incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from 
the sideboard limits listed in Table 14.

                 Table 14--Proposed 2022 and 2023 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                     Ratio of 1995-
                                                                                                     1997 non-exempt    Proposed 2022     Proposed 2022
                 Species                   Apportionments by season/          Area/component         AFA CV catch to    and 2023 TACs     and 2023 non-
                                                      gear                                            1995-1997 TAC          \3\          exempt AFA CV
                                                                                                                                         sideboard limit
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.................................  A Season January 20-May 31.  Shumagin (610).............            0.6047               695               420
                                                                       Chirikof (620).............            0.1167            36,294             4,235
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............            0.2028             5,476             1,111
                                          B Season September 1-        Shumagin (610).............            0.6047            15,372             9,295
                                           November 1.                 Chirikof (620).............            0.1167            11,420             1,333
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............            0.2028            15,672             3,178
                                          Annual.....................  WYK (640)..................            0.3495             4,706             1,645
                                                                       SEO (650)..................            0.3495            10,148             3,547
Pacific cod.............................  A Season \1\ January 1-June  W..........................            0.1331             5,749               765
                                           10.                         C..........................            0.0692            10,601               734
                                          B Season \2\ September 1-    W..........................            0.1331             3,275               436
                                           December 31.                C..........................            0.0692             5,933               411
Flatfish, shallow-water.................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0156            13,250               207
                                                                       C..........................            0.0587            28,442             1,670
Flatfish, deep-water....................  Annual.....................  C..........................            0.0647             1,914               124
                                                                       E..........................            0.0128             3,787                48
Rex sole................................  Annual.....................  C..........................            0.0384             8,912               342
Arrowtooth flounder.....................  Annual.....................  C..........................            0.0280            67,154             1,880
Flathead sole...........................  Annual.....................  C..........................            0.0213            15,400               328
Pacific ocean perch.....................  Annual.....................  C..........................            0.0748            26,234             1,962
                                                                       E..........................            0.0466             6,796               317
Northern rockfish.......................  Annual.....................  C..........................            0.0277             3,173                88
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.
\3\ The Western and Central GOA and WYK District area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs.

Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA 
are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA 
CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the 
retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 
(Sec.  679.64(b)(4)(ii)). Table 15 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 
non-exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in 
the GOA.

[[Page 68997]]



                 Table 15-Proposed 2022 and 2023 Non-Exempt AFA CV Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the GOA
                                                   [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                     Ratio of 1995-
                                                                                                     1997 non-exempt                      Proposed 2022
                                                                                                     AFA CV retained    Proposed 2022     and 2023 non-
                 Season                           Season dates               Fishery category        catch to  total    and 2023 PSC      exempt AFA CV
                                                                                                     retained catch         limit           PSC limit
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................  January 20-April 1.........  shallow-water..............             0.340               384               131
                                                                       deep-water.................             0.070               135                 9
2.......................................  April 1-July 1.............  shallow-water..............             0.340                85                29
                                                                       deep-water.................             0.070               256                18
3.......................................  July 1-August 1............  shallow-water..............             0.340               121                41
                                                                       deep-water.................             0.070               341                24
4.......................................  August 1-October 1.........  shallow-water..............             0.340                53                18
                                                                       deep-water.................             0.070                75                 5
5.......................................  October 1-December 31......  all targets................             0.205               256                52
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Annual                                                                 Total shallow-water........  ................  ................               219
                                                                                                   -----------------------------------------------------
                                                                       Total deep-water...........  ................  ................                56
                                                                                                   -----------------------------------------------------
                                                                       Grand Total, all seasons     ................             1,706               328
                                                                        and categories.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Limitations

    Section 680.22 establishes groundfish sideboard limits for vessels 
with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to 
prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by 
the Crab Rationalization (CR) Program to expand their level of 
participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard harvest limits 
restrict these vessels' catch to their collective historical landings 
in each GOA groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish 
fishery). Sideboard limits also apply to landings made using an LLP 
license derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that 
LLP license is used on another vessel.
    The basis for these sideboard harvest limits is described in detail 
in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the CR Program, 
including Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery Management Plan for 
Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) (70 FR 
10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP (76 FR 35772, June 
20, 2011), Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), 
and Amendment 45 to the Crab FMP (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015). Also, 
NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that 
implemented regulations to prohibit non-AFA crab vessels from directed 
fishing for all groundfish species or species groups subject to 
sideboard limits, except for Pacific cod apportioned to CVs using pot 
gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas (Sec.  
680.22(e)(1)(iii)). Accordingly, the GOA annual harvest specifications 
will include only the non-AFA crab vessel groundfish sideboard limits 
for Pacific cod apportioned to CVs using pot gear in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas.
    Table 16 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 groundfish sideboard 
limits for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch of 
sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP 
licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits.

                         Table 16--Proposed 2022 and 2023 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                     Ratio of 1996-
                                                                                                      2000 non-AFA                        Proposed 2022
                                                                                                       crab vessel      Proposed 2022   and 2023 non-AFA
                 Species                          Season/gear              Area/component/gear       catch to 1996-     and 2023 TACs      crab vessel
                                                                                                       2000 total                        sideboard limit
                                                                                                         harvest
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod.............................  A Season January 1-June 10.  Western Pot CV.............            0.0997             5,749               573
                                                                       Central Pot CV.............            0.0474            10,601               502
                                          B Season September 1-        Western Pot CV.............            0.0997             3,275               327
                                           December 31.
                                                                       Central Pot CV.............            0.0474             5,933               281
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 68998]]

Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations

    The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard 
provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, CP rockfish sideboard 
restrictions, and CP opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions (Sec.  
679.82(c)(1)). These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of 
rockfish harvesters to expand into other fisheries.
    CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in 
directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and northern 
rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 
through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for 
arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from 
July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(d)).
    CPs participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted 
by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These CPs are prohibited 
from directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and 
northern rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from 
July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(e)(2)). Holders of CP-designated 
LLP licenses that opt out of participating in a Rockfish Program 
cooperative will be able to access that portion of each rockfish 
sideboard limits that is not assigned to Rockfish Program cooperatives 
(Sec.  679.82(e)(7)). The sideboard ratio for each rockfish fishery in 
the Western GOA and West Yakutat District is set forth in Sec.  
679.82(e)(3) and (e)(4). Table 17 lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 
Rockfish Program CP rockfish sideboard limits in the Western GOA and 
West Yakutat District. Due to confidentiality requirements associated 
with fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District 
are not displayed.

Table 17--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Rockfish Program Sideboard Limits for the Western GOA and West Yakutat District
                                by Fishery for the Catcher/Processor (CP) Sector
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     CP sector (% of     Proposed 2022    Proposed 2022 and 2023
              Area                    Fishery              TAC)          and 2023 TACs      CP sideboard limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA....................  Dusky rockfish...  72.3.............               265  192.
                                 Pacific ocean      50.6.............             1,572  795.
                                  perch.
                                 Northern rockfish  74.3.............             1,926  1,431.
West Yakutat District..........  Dusky rockfish...  Confidential.\1\.               460  Confidential.\1\
                                 Pacific ocean      Confidential.\1\.             1,631  Confidential.\1\
                                  perch.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Not released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS
  and the State of Alaska.

    Under the Rockfish Program, the CP sector is subject to halibut PSC 
sideboard limits for the trawl deep-water and shallow-water species 
fisheries from July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(e)(3) and (e)(5)). 
Halibut PSC sideboard ratios by fishery are set forth in Sec.  
679.82(e)(5). No halibut PSC sideboard limits apply to the CV sector, 
as vessels participating in a rockfish cooperative receive a portion of 
the annual halibut PSC limit. CPs that opt out of the Rockfish Program 
would be able to access that portion of the deep-water and shallow-
water halibut PSC sideboard limit not assigned to CP rockfish 
cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for CPs that elect to opt out of 
participating in a rockfish cooperative are described in Sec.  
679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are linked to the catch 
history of specific vessels that may choose to opt out. After March 1, 
NMFS will determine which CPs have opted-out of the Rockfish Program in 
2022, and will know the ratios and amounts used to calculate opt-out 
sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any applicable opt-out 
sideboard limits for 2022 and post these limits on the Alaska Region 
website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/sustainable-fisheries/alaska-fisheries-management-reports#central-goa-rockfish. Table 18 
lists the proposed 2022 and 2023 Rockfish Program halibut PSC sideboard 
limits for the CP sector.

                     Table 18--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Rockfish Program Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for the Catcher/Processor Sector
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Shallow-water        Deep-water                         Annual shallow-   Annual deep-water
                                                            species fishery    species fishery                        water species     species fishery
                          Sector                              halibut PSC        halibut PSC       Annual halibut    fishery halibut      halibut PSC
                                                            sideboard ratio    sideboard ratio     PSC limit (mt)     PSC sideboard     sideboard limit
                                                               (percent)          (percent)                             limit (mt)            (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catcher/processor........................................              0.10               2.50              1,706                  2                 43
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Amendment 80 Program Groundfish and PSC Sideboard Limits

    Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) 
established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl CP 
sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut PSC 
limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability of 
participants eligible for the Amendment 80 Program to expand their 
harvest efforts in the GOA.
    Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits 
on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, 
to amounts no greater than the limits shown in

[[Page 68999]]

Table 37 to 50 CFR part 679. Under Sec.  679.92(d), the F/V Golden 
Fleece is prohibited from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, 
Pacific ocean perch, dusky rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA.
    Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 
1998 through 2004 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 19 lists the 
proposed 2022 and 2023 groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 
Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of 
sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program vessels from the 
sideboard limits in Table 19.

                            Table 19--Proposed 2022 and 2023 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                        Ratio of                          Proposed 2022
                                                                                                      Amendment 80      Proposed 2022       and 2023
                 Species                             Season                        Area              sector vessels     and 2023 TAC      Amendment 80
                                                                                                     1998-2004 catch        (mt)        vessel sideboard
                                                                                                         to TAC                            limits (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.................................  A Season January 20-May 31.  Shumagin (610).............             0.003               695                 2
                                                                       Chirikof (620).............             0.002            36,294                73
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............             0.002             5,476                11
                                          B Season September 1-        Shumagin (610).............             0.003            15,372                46
                                           November 1.
                                                                       Chirikof (620).............             0.002            11,420                23
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............             0.002            15,672                31
                                          Annual.....................  WYK (640)..................             0.002             4,706                 9
Pacific cod.............................  A Season \1\ January 1-June  W..........................             0.020             5,749               115
                                           10.
                                                                       C..........................             0.044            10,601               466
                                          B Season \2\ September 1-    W..........................             0.020             3,275                66
                                           December 31.
                                                                       C..........................             0.044             5,933               261
                                          Annual.....................  WYK........................             0.034             2,403                82
Pacific ocean perch.....................  Annual.....................  W..........................             0.994             1,572             1,563
                                                                       WYK........................             0.961             1,631             1,567
Northern rockfish.......................  Annual.....................  W..........................             1.000             1,926             1,926
Dusky rockfish..........................  Annual.....................  W..........................             0.764               265               202
                                                                       WYK........................             0.896               460               412
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.
\3\ The Western and Central GOA and WYK District area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs.

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
in the GOA are based on the historical use of halibut PSC by Amendment 
80 Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. 
These values are slightly lower than the average historical use to 
accommodate two factors: Allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota 
under the Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden Fleece 
from this restriction (Sec.  679.92(b)(2)). Table 20 lists the proposed 
2022 and 2023 halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program 
vessels. This table incorporate the maximum percentages of the halibut 
PSC sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 Program vessels 
as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679. Any residual amount of a 
seasonal Amendment 80 halibut PSC sideboard limit may carry forward to 
the next season limit (Sec.  679.92(b)(2)).

                        Table 20--Proposed 2022 and 2023 Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels in the GOA
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                          Proposed 2022
                                                                                                        Historic                            and 2023
                                                                                                    Amendment 80 use    Proposed 2022     Amendment 80
                 Season                           Season dates               Fishery category         of the annual    and 2023 annual     vessel PSC
                                                                                                       halibut PSC     PSC limit (mt)    sideboard limit
                                                                                                      limit (ratio)                           (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................  January 20-April 1.........  shallow-water..............            0.0048             1,706                 8
                                                                       deep-water.................            0.0115             1,706                20
2.......................................  April 1-July 1.............  shallow-water..............            0.0189             1,706                32
                                                                       deep-water.................            0.1072             1,706               183
3.......................................  July 1-August 1............  shallow-water..............            0.0146             1,706                25
                                                                       deep-water.................            0.0521             1,706                89
4.......................................  August 1-October 1.........  shallow-water..............            0.0074             1,706                13
                                                                       deep-water.................            0.0014             1,706                 2
5.......................................  October 1-December 31......  shallow-water..............            0.0227             1,706                39

[[Page 69000]]

 
                                                                       deep-water.................            0.0371             1,706                63
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Annual..................................  ...........................     Total shallow-water.....  ................  ................               117
                                                                                                   -----------------------------------------------------
                                                                          Total deep-water........  ................  ................               357
                                                                                                   -----------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Grand Total, all        ................  ................               474
                                                                             seasons and
                                                                             categories.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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 economic impact 
that 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 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 699 
individual CVs and CPs with gross revenues less than or equal to $11 
million. 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 GOA are members of 
AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI CR 
Program

[[Page 69001]]

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 696 small CV and 3 small CP 
entities remaining in the GOA groundfish sector. However, the estimate 
of these 696 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, and trawl gear CVs are estimated to be $340,000, $650,000, 
and $1.71 million, respectively. Average gross revenues for CP entities 
are confidential.

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 Pacific halibut prohibited 
species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the GOA. 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 GOA. 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 
TACs in these proposed 2022 and 2023 harvest specifications are 
unchanged from the 2022 TACs in the final 2021 and 2022 harvest 
specifications (86 FR 10184; February 19, 2021), and the sum of all 
TACs remains within OY for the GOA.
    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 most species and species groups in the GOA, 
the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, TACs equal to proposed 
ABCs, which is intended to maximize harvest opportunities in the GOA.
    For some species and species groups, however, the Council 
recommended and NMFS proposes TACs that are less than the proposed 
ABCs, including for pollock in the W/C/WYK Regulatory Area, Pacific 
cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western Regulatory Area, arrowtooth 
flounder except in the Central Regulatory Area, flathead sole in the 
Western and Central Regulatory Areas, other rockfish in the SEO 
District, and Atka mackerel. In the GOA, increasing TACs for some 
species may not result in increased harvest opportunities for those 
species. This is due to a variety of reasons. There may be a lack of 
commercial or market interest in some species. Additionally, there are 
fixed, and therefore constraining, PSC limits associated with the 
harvest of the GOA groundfish species that can lead to an underharvest 
of flatfish TACs. For this reason, the shallow-water flatfish, 
arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for 
increased harvest opportunities for these target species while 
conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The other 
rockfish and Atka mackerel TACs are set to accommodate ICAs in other 
fisheries. Finally, the TACs for two species (pollock and Pacific cod) 
cannot be set equal to ABC, as the TAC must be reduced to account for 
the State's GHLs in these fisheries. The W/C/WYK Regulatory Area 
pollock TAC and the GOA Pacific cod TACs are therefore set to account 
for the State's GHLs for the State water pollock and Pacific cod 
fisheries so that the ABCs are not exceeded. For most species in the 
GOA, the Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, that proposed TACs 
equal proposed ABCs, unless other conservation or management reasons 
support proposed TAC amounts less than the proposed ABCs.
    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 
on small entities. This action is economically beneficial to entities 
operating in the GOA, including small entities. The action proposes 
TACs for commercially valuable species in the GOA 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. 2021-26221 Filed 12-3-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P