Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2021-2022 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments, 70413-70420 [2021-26826]

Download as PDF jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 235 / Friday, December 10, 2021 / Rules and Regulations solutions to support the payer-to-payer data exchange to continue to move forward with implementation. The FAQ noted that for those impacted payers that are not capable of making the data available in a FHIR-based format, we believed that this policy of exercising enforcement discretion would alleviate industry tension regarding implementation; avoid the risk of discordant, non-standard data flowing between payers; provide time for data standards to mature further; and allow payers additional time to implement the more sophisticated payer-to-payer data exchange solutions. We are now announcing that we expect to extend this exercise of enforcement discretion of the payer-to-payer data exchange requirement until we are able to address the identified implementation challenges through future rulemaking. We anticipate providing an update on any evaluation of this enforcement discretion notification and related actions during calendar year 2022. We continue to encourage impacted payers that have already developed FHIR-based API solutions to support payer-to-payer data exchange to continue to move forward with implementation and make this functionality available on January 1, 2022, or for plan or policy years beginning on or after January 1, 2022, in accordance with the CMS Interoperability and Patient Access final rule policies. However, for those impacted payers that are not capable of making the data available in a FHIRbased API format, we believe this exercise of enforcement discretion will alleviate issues regarding implementation; avoid the risk of discordant, non-standard data flowing between payers; provide time for data standards to further mature through constant development, testing, and reference implementations; and allow payers additional time to implement more sophisticated payer-to-payer data exchange solutions. While the policy in this notification may result in temporary delay of some enrollees’ ability to bring their data with them from one payer to the next, we believe this decision could ultimately lead to more standardization and cohesion of data about enrollees as CMS provides additional implementation guidance through future rulemaking. Finally, our decision to exercise enforcement discretion for the payer-topayer policy until future rulemaking is finalized does not affect any other existing regulatory requirements and implementation timelines finalized in the CMS Interoperability and Patient Access rule finalized on May 1, 2020. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:55 Dec 09, 2021 Jkt 256001 Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, approved this document on October 15, 2021. Dated: December 7, 2021. Xavier Becerra, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services. [FR Doc. 2021–26764 Filed 12–8–21; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4120–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 201204–0325] RIN 0648–BL03 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2021–2022 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish management measures. AGENCY: This final rule announces routine inseason adjustments to management measures in commercial groundfish fisheries. This action is intended to allow commercial fishing vessels to access more abundant groundfish stocks while protecting rebuilding and depleted stocks. DATES: This final rule is effective December 10, 2021. ADDRESSES: This rule is accessible via the internet at the Office of the Federal Register website at https:// www.federalregister.gov. Background information and documents are available at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s website at https://www.pcouncil.org/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sean Matson, (206) 526–6187, email: sean.matson@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Background The Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP) and its implementing regulations at title 50 in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 660, subparts C through G, regulate fishing for over 90 species of groundfish PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 70413 off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) develops groundfish harvest specifications and management measures for 2-year periods (i.e., a biennium). NMFS published the final rule to implement harvest specifications and management measures for the 2021–2022 biennium for most species managed under the PCGFMP on December 11, 2020 (85 FR 79880). In general, the management measures set at the start of the biennial harvest specifications cycle help the various sectors of the fishery attain, but not exceed, the catch limits for each stock. The Council, in coordination with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the states of Washington, Oregon, and California, recommends adjustments to the management measures during the fishing year to achieve this goal. At the September 2021 Council meeting, the Council’s Groundfish Management Team (GMT) received requests from industry members and members of the Council’s Groundfish Advisory Subpanel to examine the potential to increase sablefish trips limits for the fixed gear (FG), limited entry (LE) and open access (OA) Daily Trip Limit (DTL) fisheries north of 36° N lat., and to increase trip limits for lingcod north of 42° N latitude. The intent of increasing the sablefish limits was to increase harvest opportunities for vessels targeting sablefish, under a mix of daily, weekly, and bimonthly landings accumulation limits (commonly referred to collectively as ‘‘trip limits’’); attainment of harvest targets for each DTL fishery, and the northern FG harvest guidelines for sablefish have been trending much lower than anticipated throughout 2021. To evaluate potential increases to sablefish trip limits, the GMT made model-based projections of landings under current regulations, as well as alternative sablefish trip limits, including the limits ultimately recommended by the Council, through the remainder of the year. Under the current trip limits, models predict that landings of sablefish will be far below the harvest targets for LE, and OA fixed gear sablefish DTL fisheries north of 36° N lat. Under the Council’s recommended trip limits, sablefish attainment is projected to increase in the LE DTL fishery north of 36° N latitude, from between 54–59 percent attainment, up to between 86 and 95 percent. For the OA DTL fishery, north of 36° N latitude, the projected gains are more modest (from between 53 and 60 percent attainment, to between 57 and E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 70414 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 235 / Friday, December 10, 2021 / Rules and Regulations 66 percent); however, the OA model is more uncertain and less well informed than the LE model, the changes (both to LE and OA) should allow some beneficial increase in attainment, while being sufficiently precautionary. The Council also recommended changes to trip limits for lingcod north of 42° N latitude, after request from industry and analysis by the GMT, in order to reduce regulatory discard, which results in waste and lost revenue. Projected impacts to total fishing mortality are nearly identical between the current and recommended trip limits for lingcod, and well within the margin for error, but based on the analysis by the GMT, the higher landing limits are predicted to convert lost fish as discard, into landings and revenue, rather than inspire additional effort. By maintaining the same level of effort, and total fishing mortality, this increase in trip limits is not predicted to increase bycatch of yelloweye rockfish, which is managed under a rebuilding plan, and is a constraint to this fixed gear lingcod attainment. At its meeting on September 9–15, 2021, the Council recommended increasing trip limits for the LE and OA FG sablefish, DTL fisheries north of 36° N latitude. The Council also recommended increasing trip limits for the FG lingcod fishery, north of 42° N latitude (LE and OA), beginning as soon as possible, for the remainder of the 2021 fishing year and for subsequent November–December periods in later years until superseded. NMFS published these inseason adjustments on October 29, 2021 (86 FR 59876), for vessels using gear other than pot/trap gear. This gear-based limitation was because of the lack of a Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) 101(a)(5)(E) permit for the incidental taking of marine mammals in the sablefish pot gear commercial fisheries. West coast sablefish pot gear fisheries are considered Category II fisheries under the MMPA’s List of Fisheries, indicating occasional interactions with marine mammals, due to occasional incidental mortality and serious injury to Endangered Species Act-listed humpback whales (the CA/OR/WA stock of humpback whales). Vessels fishing for sablefish with pot gear also incidentally catch and retain other groundfish species, including lingcod. All other West Coast groundfish fisheries, including trawl and longline fisheries, are considered Category III fisheries under the MMPA, indicating a remote likelihood of, or no known serious injuries or mortalities to, marine mammals. Because sablefish pot gear fisheries are Category II fisheries, NMFS is required to issue a MMPA 101(a)(5)(E) permit for the taking of marine mammals after making a negligible impact determination (NID). NMFS published a notice of proposed issuance of a MMPA 101(a)(5)(E) permit and proposed NID in the Federal Register on October 22, 2021 (86 FR 58641). On December 8, 2021, NMFS issued an MMPA section 101(a)(5)(E) permit for the sablefish pot gear fishery. These inseason adjustments increase the trip limits for vessels using pot/trap gear to match the limits in place for other FGs since October 29, 2021. The background on the rationale for the trip limit increases and the modeling that was completed in support of these inseason recommendations can be found in the preamble to 86 FR 59876 (October 29, 2021). Summary of Changes Trip limit increases for sablefish are intended to increase attainment of the LE and OA DTL fisheries, which each contribute to attainment of the nontrawl HG for sablefish north of 36° N latitude. The proposed trip limit increases do not change projected impacts to co-occurring rebuilding species as analyzed in the 2021–2022 harvest specifications because the projected impacts to those species assume that the entire sablefish Annual Catch Limit (ACL) is harvested. Recommended increases to lingcod north of 42° N latitude are intended to convert regulatory discards into landings and associated revenue, and are not predicted to increase effort or bycatch of co-occurring rebuilding species. Therefore, the Council recommended, and NMFS is implementing, by modifying Table 2, North and South to part 660, subpart E, trip limit changes for the LE FG fishery north of 40°10′ N lat., as well as Table 3, North and South to part 660, subpart F, to increase the limits as shown in tables 1 and 2 in this rule. TABLE 1—TRIP LIMITS BY GEAR TYPE FOR SABLEFISH NORTH OF 36° N LATITUDE FOR THE REMAINDER OF 2021 AND NOVEMBER–DECEMBER PERIODS THEREAFTER UNTIL SUPERSEDED Trip limit for vessels using pot/trap gear LEFG ................ OA .................... 4,500 lb (2,041 kg)/week, not to exceed 9,000 lb (4,082 kg)/2 months. 600 lb (272 kg), or 1 landing per week of up to 3,000 lb (1,361 kg), not to exceed 6,000 lb (2,722 kg)/2 months. TABLE 2—TRIP LIMITS BY GEAR TYPE FOR LINGCOD NORTH OF 42° N LATITUDE FOR THE REMAINDER OF 2021 AND NOVEMBER–DECEMBER PERIODS THEREAFTER UNTIL SUPERSEDED Trip limit for vessels using pot/trap gear LEFG ................ OA .................... 5,000 lb (2,268 kg)/2 months. 2,500 lb (1,134 kg)/month. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 Classification This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish fishery management measures, based on the best scientific information available, consistent with the PCGFMP and its implementing regulations. This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and is VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:55 Dec 09, 2021 Jkt 256001 exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available for public inspection by contacting Dr. Sean Matson in the West Coast Region (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above), or by visiting the NMFS West Coast Groundfish website: https:// PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/ fisheries/groundfish/. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b), NMFS finds good cause to waive prior public notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. The adjustments to management measures in this document increase trip limits for E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 235 / Friday, December 10, 2021 / Rules and Regulations jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 fisheries off Washington, Oregon, and California to allow for greater attainment of allocations. No aspect of this action is controversial, and changes of this nature were anticipated in the final rule for the 2021–2022 harvest specifications and management measures, which was published on December 11, 2020 (85 FR 79880). The Council recommended sablefish limit changes to increase opportunity to attain harvest targets and allocations for the respective fisheries, and contribute to attainment of the ACL. New information became available at the Council’s September 2021 meeting showing that harvest was tracking much lower than projections made during the harvest specifications process due to changing fishery conditions. The updated trip limits being implemented in this rule are anticipated to increase landings and fishing community revenue, while maintaining harvest within scientifically informed conservation limits, concomitant with the goals of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The Council recommended increased lingcod landing limits to reduce regulatory discard; new information became available at the Council’s September 2021 meeting indicating that current levels of landing limits were having the unintended consequence of causing fishers to discard substantial amounts of catch. Implementing the VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:55 Dec 09, 2021 Jkt 256001 recommended trip limits is projected to reduce regulatory discards, without changing attainment rate of the allocation, by enabling those fish to be landed rather than wasted, and produce fisher and community revenue. Delaying implementation to allow for public comment would reduce the economic benefits to the commercial fishing industry and the businesses that rely on that industry because it is unlikely the new regulations would publish and could be implemented before the end of the calendar year. Therefore, providing a comment period for this action could significantly limit the economic benefits to the fishery, and would hamper the achievement of optimum yield from the affected fisheries. Therefore, NMFS finds reason to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) so that this final rule may become effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The adjustments to management measures in this document affect commercial fisheries by increasing opportunity and relieving participants of the lower trip limits in light of information showing lower than usual attainment. These adjustments were requested by the Council’s advisory bodies, as well as by members of industry during the September 2021 meeting, and recommended unanimously by the Council. No aspect of this action is controversial, and PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 70415 changes of this nature were anticipated in the biennial harvest specifications and management measures established through a notice and comment rulemaking for 2021–2022 (85 FR 79880). List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian fisheries. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. Dated: December 7, 2021. Ngagne Jafnar Gueye, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows: PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. 2. Revise Table 2 (North) to part 660, subpart E, to read as follows: ■ Table 2 (North) to Part 660, Subpart E— Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Trip Limits for Limited Entry Fixed Gear North of 40≥10′ N Lat. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 235 / Friday, December 10, 2021 / Rules and Regulations 3. Revise Table 2 (South) to part 660, subpart E, to read as follows: jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:55 Dec 09, 2021 Jkt 256001 Table 2 (South) to Part 660, Subpart E— Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Trip Limits for Limited Entry Fixed Gear South of 40≥10′ N Lat. PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 ER10DE21.013</GPH> 70416 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 235 / Friday, December 10, 2021 / Rules and Regulations jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:55 Dec 09, 2021 Jkt 256001 Table 3 (North) to Part 660, Subpart F— Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Trip Limits for Open Access Gears North of 40≥10′ N Lat. PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 ER10DE21.014</GPH> 4. Revise Table 3 (North) to part 660, subpart F, to read as follows: ■ 70417 VerDate Sep<11>2014 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 235 / Friday, December 10, 2021 / Rules and Regulations 15:55 Dec 09, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 ER10DE21.015</GPH> jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 70418 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 235 / Friday, December 10, 2021 / Rules and Regulations jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:55 Dec 09, 2021 Jkt 256001 Table 3 (South) to Part 660, Subpart F— Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Trip Limits for Open Access Gears South of 40≥10′ N Lat. PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 ER10DE21.016</GPH> 5. Revise Table 3 (South) to part 660, subpart F, to read as follows: ■ 70419 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 235 / Friday, December 10, 2021 / Rules and Regulations Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. [FR Doc. 2021–26826 Filed 12–9–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–C ACTION: DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE action. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration SUMMARY: 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 211203–0251] RIN 0648–BL01 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 Temporary rule; emergency Fisheries Off West Coast States; Emergency Action to Temporarily Reopen the Sablefish Primary Fishery Season for Vessels Using Pot Gear National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:55 Dec 09, 2021 Jkt 256001 This emergency rule temporarily reopens the 2021 sablefish primary fishery for vessels using pot/ trap gear effective December 10, 2021, to December 31, 2021. This action is necessary to provide operational flexibility so that vessels in the sablefish primary fishery are able to fully harvest their tier limits despite high economic uncertainty in 2021. Effective December 10, 2021, until December 31, 2021. DATES: Frm 00072 This emergency rule and supporting documents, including a Supplemental Information Report prepared for this action, are accessible via the internet at the Office of the Federal Register website at https:// www.federalregister.gov. Background information and documents are also available at the NMFS West Coast Region website at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/westcoast-groundfish and at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s website at https://www.pcouncil.org/managed_ fishery/groundfish/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Abbie Moyer, phone: 206–305–9601, or email: Abbie.moyer@noaa.gov. ADDRESSES: PO 00000 Electronic Access Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 ER10DE21.017</GPH> 70420

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 235 (Friday, December 10, 2021)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 70413-70420]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-26826]


=======================================================================
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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 201204-0325]
RIN 0648-BL03


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2021-2022 Biennial Specifications and 
Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments

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

ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish 
management measures.

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

SUMMARY: This final rule announces routine inseason adjustments to 
management measures in commercial groundfish fisheries. This action is 
intended to allow commercial fishing vessels to access more abundant 
groundfish stocks while protecting rebuilding and depleted stocks.

DATES: This final rule is effective December 10, 2021.

ADDRESSES: This rule is accessible via the internet at the Office of 
the Federal Register website at https://www.federalregister.gov. 
Background information and documents are available at the Pacific 
Fishery Management Council's website at https://www.pcouncil.org/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sean Matson, (206) 526-6187, email: 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP) and 
its implementing regulations at title 50 in the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR), part 660, subparts C through G, regulate fishing for 
over 90 species of groundfish off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and 
California. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) develops 
groundfish harvest specifications and management measures for 2-year 
periods (i.e., a biennium). NMFS published the final rule to implement 
harvest specifications and management measures for the 2021-2022 
biennium for most species managed under the PCGFMP on December 11, 2020 
(85 FR 79880). In general, the management measures set at the start of 
the biennial harvest specifications cycle help the various sectors of 
the fishery attain, but not exceed, the catch limits for each stock. 
The Council, in coordination with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes 
and the states of Washington, Oregon, and California, recommends 
adjustments to the management measures during the fishing year to 
achieve this goal.
    At the September 2021 Council meeting, the Council's Groundfish 
Management Team (GMT) received requests from industry members and 
members of the Council's Groundfish Advisory Subpanel to examine the 
potential to increase sablefish trips limits for the fixed gear (FG), 
limited entry (LE) and open access (OA) Daily Trip Limit (DTL) 
fisheries north of 36[deg] N lat., and to increase trip limits for 
lingcod north of 42[deg] N latitude. The intent of increasing the 
sablefish limits was to increase harvest opportunities for vessels 
targeting sablefish, under a mix of daily, weekly, and bimonthly 
landings accumulation limits (commonly referred to collectively as 
``trip limits''); attainment of harvest targets for each DTL fishery, 
and the northern FG harvest guidelines for sablefish have been trending 
much lower than anticipated throughout 2021. To evaluate potential 
increases to sablefish trip limits, the GMT made model-based 
projections of landings under current regulations, as well as 
alternative sablefish trip limits, including the limits ultimately 
recommended by the Council, through the remainder of the year. Under 
the current trip limits, models predict that landings of sablefish will 
be far below the harvest targets for LE, and OA fixed gear sablefish 
DTL fisheries north of 36[deg] N lat. Under the Council's recommended 
trip limits, sablefish attainment is projected to increase in the LE 
DTL fishery north of 36[deg] N latitude, from between 54-59 percent 
attainment, up to between 86 and 95 percent. For the OA DTL fishery, 
north of 36[deg] N latitude, the projected gains are more modest (from 
between 53 and 60 percent attainment, to between 57 and

[[Page 70414]]

66 percent); however, the OA model is more uncertain and less well 
informed than the LE model, the changes (both to LE and OA) should 
allow some beneficial increase in attainment, while being sufficiently 
precautionary.
    The Council also recommended changes to trip limits for lingcod 
north of 42[deg] N latitude, after request from industry and analysis 
by the GMT, in order to reduce regulatory discard, which results in 
waste and lost revenue. Projected impacts to total fishing mortality 
are nearly identical between the current and recommended trip limits 
for lingcod, and well within the margin for error, but based on the 
analysis by the GMT, the higher landing limits are predicted to convert 
lost fish as discard, into landings and revenue, rather than inspire 
additional effort. By maintaining the same level of effort, and total 
fishing mortality, this increase in trip limits is not predicted to 
increase bycatch of yelloweye rockfish, which is managed under a 
rebuilding plan, and is a constraint to this fixed gear lingcod 
attainment.
    At its meeting on September 9-15, 2021, the Council recommended 
increasing trip limits for the LE and OA FG sablefish, DTL fisheries 
north of 36[deg] N latitude. The Council also recommended increasing 
trip limits for the FG lingcod fishery, north of 42[deg] N latitude (LE 
and OA), beginning as soon as possible, for the remainder of the 2021 
fishing year and for subsequent November-December periods in later 
years until superseded. NMFS published these inseason adjustments on 
October 29, 2021 (86 FR 59876), for vessels using gear other than pot/
trap gear. This gear-based limitation was because of the lack of a 
Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) 101(a)(5)(E) permit for the 
incidental taking of marine mammals in the sablefish pot gear 
commercial fisheries. West coast sablefish pot gear fisheries are 
considered Category II fisheries under the MMPA's List of Fisheries, 
indicating occasional interactions with marine mammals, due to 
occasional incidental mortality and serious injury to Endangered 
Species Act-listed humpback whales (the CA/OR/WA stock of humpback 
whales). Vessels fishing for sablefish with pot gear also incidentally 
catch and retain other groundfish species, including lingcod. All other 
West Coast groundfish fisheries, including trawl and longline 
fisheries, are considered Category III fisheries under the MMPA, 
indicating a remote likelihood of, or no known serious injuries or 
mortalities to, marine mammals. Because sablefish pot gear fisheries 
are Category II fisheries, NMFS is required to issue a MMPA 
101(a)(5)(E) permit for the taking of marine mammals after making a 
negligible impact determination (NID). NMFS published a notice of 
proposed issuance of a MMPA 101(a)(5)(E) permit and proposed NID in the 
Federal Register on October 22, 2021 (86 FR 58641). On December 8, 
2021, NMFS issued an MMPA section 101(a)(5)(E) permit for the sablefish 
pot gear fishery.
    These inseason adjustments increase the trip limits for vessels 
using pot/trap gear to match the limits in place for other FGs since 
October 29, 2021. The background on the rationale for the trip limit 
increases and the modeling that was completed in support of these 
inseason recommendations can be found in the preamble to 86 FR 59876 
(October 29, 2021).

Summary of Changes

    Trip limit increases for sablefish are intended to increase 
attainment of the LE and OA DTL fisheries, which each contribute to 
attainment of the non-trawl HG for sablefish north of 36[deg] N 
latitude. The proposed trip limit increases do not change projected 
impacts to co-occurring rebuilding species as analyzed in the 2021-2022 
harvest specifications because the projected impacts to those species 
assume that the entire sablefish Annual Catch Limit (ACL) is harvested. 
Recommended increases to lingcod north of 42[deg] N latitude are 
intended to convert regulatory discards into landings and associated 
revenue, and are not predicted to increase effort or bycatch of co-
occurring rebuilding species. Therefore, the Council recommended, and 
NMFS is implementing, by modifying Table 2, North and South to part 
660, subpart E, trip limit changes for the LE FG fishery north of 
40[deg]10' N lat., as well as Table 3, North and South to part 660, 
subpart F, to increase the limits as shown in tables 1 and 2 in this 
rule.

   Table 1--Trip Limits by Gear Type for Sablefish North of 36[deg] N
    Latitude for the Remainder of 2021 and November-December Periods
                       Thereafter Until Superseded
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Trip limit for vessels using pot/trap gear
------------------------------------------------------------------------
LEFG.....................  4,500 lb (2,041 kg)/week, not to exceed 9,000
                            lb (4,082 kg)/2 months.
OA.......................  600 lb (272 kg), or 1 landing per week of up
                            to 3,000 lb (1,361 kg), not to exceed 6,000
                            lb (2,722 kg)/2 months.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table 2--Trip Limits by Gear Type for Lingcod North of 42[deg] N
    Latitude for the Remainder of 2021 and November-December Periods
                       Thereafter Until Superseded
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Trip limit for vessels using pot/trap gear
------------------------------------------------------------------------
LEFG.....................  5,000 lb (2,268 kg)/2 months.
OA.......................  2,500 lb (1,134 kg)/month.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Classification

    This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish 
fishery management measures, based on the best scientific information 
available, consistent with the PCGFMP and its implementing regulations.
    This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and is 
exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
    The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available 
for public inspection by contacting Dr. Sean Matson in the West Coast 
Region (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above), or by visiting the 
NMFS West Coast Groundfish website: https://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/groundfish/.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b), NMFS finds good cause to waive prior 
public notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as 
notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public 
interest. The adjustments to management measures in this document 
increase trip limits for

[[Page 70415]]

fisheries off Washington, Oregon, and California to allow for greater 
attainment of allocations. No aspect of this action is controversial, 
and changes of this nature were anticipated in the final rule for the 
2021-2022 harvest specifications and management measures, which was 
published on December 11, 2020 (85 FR 79880).
    The Council recommended sablefish limit changes to increase 
opportunity to attain harvest targets and allocations for the 
respective fisheries, and contribute to attainment of the ACL. New 
information became available at the Council's September 2021 meeting 
showing that harvest was tracking much lower than projections made 
during the harvest specifications process due to changing fishery 
conditions. The updated trip limits being implemented in this rule are 
anticipated to increase landings and fishing community revenue, while 
maintaining harvest within scientifically informed conservation limits, 
concomitant with the goals of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
    The Council recommended increased lingcod landing limits to reduce 
regulatory discard; new information became available at the Council's 
September 2021 meeting indicating that current levels of landing limits 
were having the unintended consequence of causing fishers to discard 
substantial amounts of catch. Implementing the recommended trip limits 
is projected to reduce regulatory discards, without changing attainment 
rate of the allocation, by enabling those fish to be landed rather than 
wasted, and produce fisher and community revenue.
    Delaying implementation to allow for public comment would reduce 
the economic benefits to the commercial fishing industry and the 
businesses that rely on that industry because it is unlikely the new 
regulations would publish and could be implemented before the end of 
the calendar year. Therefore, providing a comment period for this 
action could significantly limit the economic benefits to the fishery, 
and would hamper the achievement of optimum yield from the affected 
fisheries.
    Therefore, NMFS finds reason to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) so that this final rule 
may become effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The 
adjustments to management measures in this document affect commercial 
fisheries by increasing opportunity and relieving participants of the 
lower trip limits in light of information showing lower than usual 
attainment. These adjustments were requested by the Council's advisory 
bodies, as well as by members of industry during the September 2021 
meeting, and recommended unanimously by the Council. No aspect of this 
action is controversial, and changes of this nature were anticipated in 
the biennial harvest specifications and management measures established 
through a notice and comment rulemaking for 2021-2022 (85 FR 79880).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian fisheries.

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

    Dated: December 7, 2021.
Ngagne Jafnar Gueye,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended 
as follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

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

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


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2. Revise Table 2 (North) to part 660, subpart E, to read as follows:

Table 2 (North) to Part 660, Subpart E--Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation 
Areas and Trip Limits for Limited Entry Fixed Gear North of 40[deg]10' 
N Lat.

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3. Revise Table 2 (South) to part 660, subpart E, to read as follows:

Table 2 (South) to Part 660, Subpart E--Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation 
Areas and Trip Limits for Limited Entry Fixed Gear South of 40[deg]10' 
N Lat.

[[Page 70417]]

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4. Revise Table 3 (North) to part 660, subpart F, to read as follows:

Table 3 (North) to Part 660, Subpart F--Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation 
Areas and Trip Limits for Open Access Gears North of 40[deg]10' N Lat.

[[Page 70418]]

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[[Page 70419]]



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5. Revise Table 3 (South) to part 660, subpart F, to read as follows:

Table 3 (South) to Part 660, Subpart F--Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation 
Areas and Trip Limits for Open Access Gears South of 40[deg]10' N Lat.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR10DE21.016


[[Page 70420]]


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[FR Doc. 2021-26826 Filed 12-9-21; 8:45 am]
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