[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 104 (Wednesday, June 1, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-13303]

[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: June 1, 1994]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 671

[Docket No. 940253-4151; I.D. 021494C]
RIN 0648-AG20


King and Tanner Crab Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian 

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

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: NMFS announces the approval of Amendment 2 to the Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) for the Commercial King and Tanner Crab Fisheries 
of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI). NMFS issues final 
regulations removing existing regulations that superseded State of 
Alaska (State) regulations that established Norton Sound as a 
superexclusive registration area in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) 
of the BSAI. This action is necessary for effective management of the 
fishery having the smallest biomass and guideline harvest level (GHL) 
in the BSAI crab fisheries. This action is intended to promote 
management and conservation of crab and other fishery resources and to 
further the goals and objectives contained in the FMP for the 
Commercial King and Tanner Crab Fisheries of the BSAI.

EFFECTIVE DATE: June 27, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Copies of Amendment 2 and the environmental assessment/
regulatory impact review/final regulatory flexibility analysis (EA/RIR/
FRFA) may be obtained from the North Pacific Fishery Management 
Council, P.O. Box 103136, Anchorage, AK 99510 (907-271-2809).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kim J. Spitler, Fisheries Management 
Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, 907-586-7228.



    The commercial king and Tanner crab fisheries in the EEZ of the 
BSAI are managed under the FMP. This FMP was prepared by the North 
Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) under the Magnuson Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson Act). It is a framework FMP 
that, with oversight by the Council and the Secretary of Commerce 
(Secretary), defers management of the crab resources in the BSAI to the 
State. The FMP was approved by the Secretary and implemented on June 2, 
1989. At times, regulations implementing the FMP must be amended to 
resolve problems pertaining to management of the BSAI crab fisheries.
    The FMP contains three categories of management measures: (1) 
Specific Federal management measures that require an FMP amendment to 
change; (2) framework type management measures, with criteria set out 
in the FMP that the State must follow when implementing changes in 
State regulations; and (3) measures that are neither rigidly specified 
nor frameworked in the FMP, and that may be freely adopted or modified 
by the State, subject to an appeals process or other Federal laws. 
Registration areas are listed as a category 2 measure. Section 8.2.8 of 
the FMP specifies that king crab registration areas may be designated 
as either exclusive or nonexclusive. Designation of a registration area 
as superexclusive would require an FMP amendment and incorporation into 
the FMP as a category 1 management measure.
    At its January 1994 meeting, the Council adopted Amendment 2 to the 
FMP and requested that NMFS prepare a rulemaking to implement the 
amendment. Amendment 2 establishes the Norton Sound Section of the 
Northern District of the BSAI king crab fishery as a superexclusive 
registration area.
    A notice of availability of Amendment 2 was published in the 
Federal Register on February 23, 1994 (59 FR 8595), and invited 
comments on the amendment through April 25, 1994. A proposed rule to 
implement Amendment 2 was published in the Federal Register March 4, 
1994 (59 FR 10365). Comments on the proposed rule were invited through 
April 14, 1994. One letter, containing 14 comments on Amendment 2 and 
the proposed rule, was received. These comments are summarized in the 
Response to Comments section, below.
    Amendment 2 was approved by NMFS on May 18, 1994, under section 
304(b) of the Magnuson Act. Under the amendment, the operator of any 
vessel registered in the Norton Sound Section of the Northern District 
of the BSAI king crab fishery superexclusive area cannot register the 
vessel in any other EEZ area of the BSAI during that registration year. 
Upon reviewing the reasons for Amendment 2, and the comments on the 
proposed rule to implement it, NMFS has determined that this final rule 
is necessary for fishery conservation and management. The final rule 
removes existing regulations at 50 CFR 671.20, which supersede existing 
State regulations designating Norton Sound as a superexclusive 
registration area.
    The intent of this measure, implemented under Amendment 2, is to 
allow for a slower-paced fishery, full attainment of guideline harvest 
levels, longer seasons, and reduced administrative and enforcement 
costs. This measure also will provide for consistency between the FMP 
and State regulations governing the BSAI crab fishery. Further 
explanation of, and reasons for, this measure is contained in the 
preamble to the proposed rule (59 FR 10365, March 4, 1994).

Comments and Responses

    One letter of comments from the Alaska Crab Coalition was received 
within the comment period. The comments were opposed to Amendment 2. A 
summary of comments and NMFS' response follow:
    Comment 1. At the December 1993 Council meeting, the Scientific and 
Statistical Committee (SSC) commented that the EA prepared for 
Amendment 2 required considerably more development with respect to the 
costs and productivity rates of the larger and smaller vessels. The SSC 
further stated that data sources needed to be more fully described.
    Response. The initial draft EA/RIR/IRFA was revised to address 
comments made by the SSC. A revised version was subsequently reviewed 
by the SSC. At the January 1994 Council meeting, the SSC reported that 
the analysts had addressed the issues identified in December by 
conducting additional analyses that examined, over a range of possible 
values, the sensitivity of the results to the assumed operating costs 
and productivity rates, including the scenario where small and large 
vessels are assumed to have similar soak times for pots and to 
experience similar ex-vessel prices. In addition, the analysts provided 
a more detailed discussion of management and enforcement costs under 
the different alternatives. NMFS has determined that the specific 
issues raised by the SSC in its review of the initial EA/RIR/IRFA 
(December 14, 1993) have been adequately addressed in the EA/RIR/IRFA 
that was made available for public comment in January 1994.
    Comment 2. The proposed amendment is not consistent with national 
standard 1 of the Magnuson Act in that it would not contribute to the 
long-term avoidance of overfishing. The procedures used to establish 
and enforce the GHL in the Norton Sound summer king crab fishery remain 
unchanged by Amendment 2. This refutes the claim in the EA that 
Amendment 2 would contribute to the avoidance of overfishing. Moreover, 
Amendment 2 encourages, and does not constrain, the development of new, 
small-boat capacity in the fishery. This could readily result in 
overcapitalization and a consequent future risk of fishing pressures, 
leading to overfishing.
    The proposed amendment will not contribute to the attainment of 
optimum yield (OY) as claimed by the EA, which cites the substantial 
underharvest that occurred in 1992. The underharvest resulted from 
failure to provide for adequate management during the course of the 
1992 opening. This was evidenced by a management decision to set the 
1992 closure date in advance of the opening.
    Response. Amendment 2 is consistent with national standard 1. It is 
not necessary to change the procedure used to establish a GHL to 
contribute to the avoidance of overfishing. The FMP authorizes the 
State to make inseason adjustments to GHLs after consideration of 
appropriate factors and to the extent that inseason data are available. 
Some of these factors include the effect of overall fishing effort 
within the registration area, catch per unit of effort and rate of 
harvest, and timeliness and accuracy of catch reporting. The dispersion 
of effort predicted to occur in a superexclusive registration area can 
slow the pace of the fishery and reduce the necessity for conservative 
management measures (e.g., premature fishery closures) that sometimes 
are necessary to reduce the potential for overharvest of the GHL. 
Inseason data are more readily available and utilized in a slower-paced 
fishery. A critical aspect of national standard 1 is consideration of 
the rate of fishing mortality and its effect on the long-term capacity 
of the stock to produce maximum sustainable yield. Dispersing the 
fishing effort in a geographic region such as Norton Sound effectively 
slows the rate of fishing mortality.
    The redistribution of fishing effort in Norton Sound that will 
result from superexclusive registration status does not involve vessels 
newly constructed solely for Norton Sound. New entrants are using 
existing and historical gear. Many had been idle due to failures in 
salmon and herring fisheries. Any potential increase in capacity in 
this small fishery would be limited by the Council's proposed vessel 
moratorium which, if approved, would limit the entry of new vessels 
over 32 ft (10 m) into the groundfish, crab, and halibut fisheries off 
Alaska. The proposed moratorium is intended as an interim management 
measure to curtail increases in fishing capacity until a comprehensive 
management plan for the groundfish and crab fisheries can be prepared 
and implemented.
    National standard 1 requires appropriate consideration of pertinent 
social, economic, and ecological factors in the attainment of OY. 
Because of temporal variability in these factors, GHLs are adjusted 
annually, based upon current evaluations of the biological and 
socioeconomic components. The use of superexclusive registration area 
status as a management tool will address socioeconomic factors 
identified in the EA.
    NMFS disagrees that the pre-announced 1992 fishery closure was an 
indication of mismanagement by the State of Alaska. Pre-announced 
closures have been used historically in some fisheries that experience 
pulse-type fishing patterns as a result of excessive effort, such as 
the halibut and black cod fisheries. For example, in 1992, the Norton 
Sound crab fishery experienced the second highest recorded number of 
pots ever fished and was conducted in a pulse-type fashion.
    Comment 3. It is predicted that only small harvesting vessels and 
no catcher/processors would participate in the Norton Sound fishery if 
it is a superexclusive registration area. With no observer coverage, an 
essential management tool for effective fisheries management would be 
    Response. Nothing in the amendment prohibits catcher/processors 
from participating in the Norton Sound king crab fishery if they so 
choose. NMFS has received information from the industry indicating that 
one floating processor may participate in the 1994 fishery. Observer 
information would be available for catcher vessels delivering to this 
processor. Even if no floating processor participated, management data 
would still be available.
    1n a crab fishery conducted predominantly by small catcher vessels, 
information necessary for effective fishery management is acquired by 
the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) staff monitoring 
shoreside deliveries. One reason the crab observer program was 
initiated was to enforce regulations on catcher/processors and floating 
processor vessels regarding the taking of sublegal and female crab. 
Compliance with these size and sex regulations on catcher vessels is 
enforced by shoreside ADF&G staff present at the time of delivery.
    Comment 4. Amendment 2 is not consistent with national standard 2 
of the Magnuson Act in that there has not been a good- faith effort to 
assemble and supply the best scientific information available. The 
assertion that data on 1993 participants are unavailable is highly 
implausible. The central reliance on a model is a fundamental defect of 
the EA, given the lack of revenue and cost data.
    Response. Amendment 2 is based upon the best scientific information 
available and is consistent with national standard 2. The EA examined 
the seasonal fishing activities for Norton Sound crab vessels 
participating in other fisheries. The data for participation in other 
1993 fisheries by vessels participating in the 1993 Norton Sound king 
crab fishery were not available at the time the EA was prepared, due to 
ongoing fishing seasons, the volume of incoming fish tickets, and the 
time necessary for fish ticket data entry and audit. Currently, most of 
these data still are not available. Preliminary review of the available 
1993 fish ticket data indicates that only two of the 14 vessels 
registered in the Norton Sound king crab fishery participated in other 
BSAI king crab fisheries. If these operators choose to register in 
Norton Sound in the future, they would not be able to register their 
vessels in other BSAI king crab registration areas during that 
registration year.
    NMFS disagrees that the EA displays a central reliance on a model. 
Models are only as good as the assumptions and input variables used. 
Model results are best used to gauge the relative effects of 
alternative management measures, rather than the actual quantitative 
impacts. This was the manner in which the model was used to analyze the 
economic effects of the Norton Sound superexclusive registration area 
on the participating fleet.
    Comment 5. Notably absent from the EA is any serious discussion of 
the effect of Amendment 2 on crab fisheries, other than that in Norton 
Sound. The EA fails to address the effect of increased effort and the 
subsequent economic impact of additional vessels operating in the other 
crab fisheries as a result of large vessels that would no longer 
operate in Norton Sound.
    Furthermore, the EA overwhelmingly is concerned with the economic 
benefits that allegedly will accrue to the local community from the 
adoption of Amendment 2. Amendment 2 would impose hardships on those 
who effectively are excluded from the Norton Sound summer crab fishery. 
The EA is superficial and legally insufficient in its treatment of this 
    Response. The EA is legally sufficient. The vessel operators that 
choose not to register in the superexclusive Norton Sound fishery will 
not create an additional effort in other crab fisheries; they already 
participate in these other fisheries. Therefore, their decision not to 
register in Norton Sound would not indicate an increase in effort in 
these fisheries. Norton Sound crab accounts for a relatively small 
percentage of their total harvest, so the impacts of obtaining an 
equivalent harvest from other BSAI crab fisheries would be relatively 
insignificant in such fisheries.
    A management objective of the crab FMP is to maximize the economic 
and social benefits to the Nation over time, including the economic 
stability of coastal communities. When selecting management measures, 
the impact of management alternatives on the distribution of benefits 
among members of the harvesting, processing and consumer communities 
must be considered. As indicated in the RIR, the economic impacts on 
the Norton Sound region from participation by small vessels and a 
longer season are relatively much greater than the economic impacts on 
crab communities such as Dutch Harbor, Bellingham, and Seattle. The 
1993 Norton Sound crab fishery resulted in the greatest revenues of any 
fishery in the Norton Sound region that year, and a local fresh crab 
market was established.
    Conversely, the large vessels that participate in the Norton Sound 
fishery obtain only a small percentage of their annual crab landings 
from this fishery. The Norton Sound fishery accounts for less than 1 
percent of the total poundage of the entire BSAI crab fishery (the 
January draft EA reflects a typographical error; it indicates that 
Norton Sound accounts for less than 5 percent, not 1; see final EA at 
page 3-13). The primary fisheries for these vessels are Tanner crab and 
Bristol Bay red king crab. The hardship experienced by the operators of 
the large vessels was relatively less given that Norton Sound crab 
contributed no more than 0.7 percent to any of the 26 catcher/processor 
and catcher vessels' yearly crab landings for 1992 and no more than 1.6 
percent of the total landings for any of the catcher/processors in 
1990. Neither individual vessels nor participants in the pre-1993 fleet 
were dependent on this fishery in terms of year-to-year participation 
or landings within any one year.
    Comment 6. Amendment 2 is not consistent with national standard 3 
of the Magnuson Act in that it does not manage the Norton Sound summer 
king crab fishery in close coordination with other king crab fisheries. 
For instance, the implication in the EA that Amendment 2 coordinates 
with Adak brown crab fisheries is false, because no relationship exists 
between the vessels used in Norton Sound and those used in the Adak 
brown king crab fisheries.
    Response. Amendment 2 is consistent with national standard 3. No 
direct relationship exists between the operators of vessels using 
single pot gear in the Norton Sound red king crab fishery and those 
using longline pot gear in the Adak brown king crab fishery. However, a 
relationship does exist between the Norton Sound and Adak red king crab 
fisheries, because single pot gear is used in both and the fisheries 
could be conducted by the same vessels.
    Alternative 3 of the EA considered the option of creating an 
exclusive, rather than a superexclusive, registration area in Norton 
Sound. Exclusive registration in Norton Sound would require vessels to 
register in Norton Sound, but would also allow vessels registered in 
nonexclusive areas to register and participate in the Norton Sound 
fishery. An exclusive registration area would not remedy the situation 
of excessive vessel effort harvesting the small quota in a very short 
time. Therefore, unless the Adak red king crab fishery also was made 
exclusive, there would be no means of forestalling participation by 
much of that fleet in Norton Sound. The Council viewed Alternative 3 as 
more restrictive on the entire fleet than Alternative 2 because it 
would further limit their registration options. The Council and 
Secretary considered the close coordination that exists among the 
Norton Sound fishery and the other BSAI crab fisheries in developing 
the superexclusive area for Norton Sound.
    Comment 7. Amendment 2 is not consistent with national standard 4 
of the Magnuson Act in that it incorporates, or relies upon, a 
discriminatory state law or regulation. The precise effect of Amendment 
2 is to advantage local Alaskan residents at the expense of non-
Alaskans in the Norton Sound summer king crab fishery.
    1t is not necessary to allocate the Norton Sound summer king crab. 
Favoritism shown to Alaskan residents may lead to less responsible 
management through more leniency in the regulatory and enforcement 
processes. In fact, State management of the 1993 Norton Sound crab 
fishery relaxed time and area restrictions to allow local residents 
access to areas that have been closed for 5 years due to conservation 
    Response. Amendment 2 is consistent with national standard 4. NMFS 
is not aware of any discriminatory State law or regulation incorporated 
in Amendment 2 that suggests a preference for Alaska residents in the 
management of the fisheries. The commenter did not cite the alleged 
discriminatory statute. The amendment does not prohibit any vessel in 
the fleet, regardless of where it is registered, from electing to fish 
in the Norton Sound superexclusive registration area or elsewhere in 
any year. Any vessel, including an Alaska-registered vessel, permitted 
to participate in the Norton Sound king crab fishery may not fish for 
king crab in any other BSAI registration area. Vessels from outside 
Alaska may operate in exclusive and nonexclusive areas, in only 
nonexclusive areas, or in the Norton Sound superexclusive area.
    The designation of Norton Sound as a superexclusive registration 
area is not primarily an allocative measure. Title 50 CFR 602.14(c)(1) 
states that an allocation or assignment of fishing privileges is a 
direct and deliberate distribution of the opportunity to participate in 
a fishery among identifiable, discrete user groups or individuals. Many 
management measures have indirect allocative effects, but only those 
measures that result in direct distributions of fishing privileges will 
be judged against the allocation requirements of national standard 4. 
Allocations of fishing privileges include individual vessel catch 
limits, quotas by vessel class and gear type, different quotas or 
fishing seasons for recreational and commercial fishermen, assignment 
of ocean areas to different gear users, and limitation of permits to a 
certain number of vessels or fishermen. While the designation of Norton 
Sound as a superexclusive registration area is not primarily 
allocative, it does have allocative effects that are incidental to the 
primary conservation purpose of the amendment. NMFS expects operators 
of large vessels will be discouraged from participating in the Norton 
Sound fishery, because the resource base is relatively small and it is 
not economically feasible for large vessels to operate in Norton Sound. 
Therefore, NMFS did consider the three criteria outlined in 50 CFR 
602.14(c)(3)(i) through (iii).
    The amendment is fair and equitable. The 1993 GHL accounted for 
less than 1 percent of the total available harvest in all of the BSAI 
crab fisheries. There is crab available elsewhere for harvest by a 
vessel not registered in Norton Sound.
    The amendment is consistent with 50 CFR 602.14(c)(3)(ii) in that it 
promotes conservation by encouraging a rational, more easily managed 
use of the resource. See NMFS' response to Comment 2. In the past 10 
fishery seasons, the resource was overharvested 5 times, substantially 
underharvested once, and the fishery did not open in 1991 due to 
excessive effort present and concern over possible damage to the 
resource (see EA, Table 12). Designating Norton Sound as a 
superexclusive area is expected to dissuade the operators of large 
vessels from coming in and taking the crab quickly and risking 
overharvest, provide for better monitoring of the GHL with a small boat 
fishery, and promote OY by not leaving available crab on the grounds.
    The amendment avoids the acquisition of excessive shares of fishing 
privileges by any one person or entity. The purpose of superexclusive 
registration is not to distribute fishing shares. Many factors can 
limit a vessel's fishing capacity. In Norton Sound, individual vessels 
are limited by size and by the number of pots deployed. Current 
regulations limit the number of pots to 40 on vessels 125 ft (38 m) or 
less. These restrictions effectively prevent any one vessel from 
harvesting an inordinate amount of the available GHL.
    In anticipation of a longer season as a result of lowered pot 
limits and reduced effort, State management adjusted the opening date 
of the 1993 Norton Sound king crab fishery from August 1 to July 1. The 
intent of this action was to decrease the likelihood of the fishery 
being conducted in September when the crab are molting and mating. The 
15 nautical mile closure line was reduced to 5 miles on July 15 by 
emergency order based on daily catch reports that indicated a poor 
catch rate. The poor catch rate was thought to be caused by the early 
timing of the fishery, in that the seasonal offshore migration of the 
crab had not yet occurred. The closure was reduced to allow for the 
efficient harvest of red king crab. The risk of handling sublegal crab 
and the associated mortality was considered prior to this decision 
being made. The fewer pots on the grounds and the ability of fishermen 
to rapidly move off small crab effectively lessened such a risk.
    In 1982 the Alaska Board of Fisheries implemented a 15 nautical 
mile closure in the Norton Sound summer king crab fishery for purposes 
of biological conservation. Under appropriate circumstances, this 
closure could be reduced by ADF&G to allow the king crab fishery to 
obtain efficiently the allowable harvest of red king crab. Large and 
small vessels in the fleet benefitted from closure reductions that 
occurred in 1982 and 1985. The commenter's misperception of 
``leniency'' shown toward local residents is erroneous. First, the 
``lenient'' management approach deemed incompatible with basic 
conservation objectives by the commenter may better be described as a 
more rational, easily managed approach that was possible under the 
conditions present in 1993 and that successfully promoted conservation 
of the resource. Second, only four of the 14 vessels in 1993 were 
local. Relaxation of time and area restrictions also benefitted the 
other 10 vessels.
    Comment 8. The problems of deadloss and handling mortality that 
allegedly exist under the status quo would not be effectively addressed 
by Amendment 2 and would predictably continue under the amendment.
    Response. NMFS disagrees. Problems of deadloss and handling 
mortality would be addressed effectively in the Norton Sound fishery as 
a result of its superexclusive status. Norton Sound is unique among the 
BSAI crab fisheries in that the spring Yukon River run-off and 
concurrent ice melt creates a freshwater lens that can contribute 
substantially to deadloss and handling mortality. Larger vessels with 
live tanks require circulating water; this is a problem in Norton Sound 
because introduced freshwater can cause increased mortality of the live 
crab held in tanks. Smaller vessels typically do not have live tanks; 
therefore, the freshwater lens does not impact crab onboard. Evidence 
indicates that pulse-type fishing patterns typical of fisheries of 
short duration result in decreased pot soak times and more frequent pot 
pulls. Handling mortality of female and sublegal crab subsequently 
increases. Fisheries of longer duration, such as that expected through 
superexclusive registration, effectively increase soak time of pots. 
This allows smaller sublegal crab the opportunity to escape and reduces 
handling mortality.
    Comment 9. Amendment 2 is not consistent with national standard 5 
of the Magnuson Act in that it offers no prospect of long-term, 
increased efficiency in the Norton Sound summer king crab fishery, and 
would, instead, lead to decreased efficiency in the other crab 
fisheries. The operators of displaced vessels will respond by 
concentrating their efforts more intensively in the other, already 
overcapitalized, crab fisheries.
    Response. NMFS disagrees. The amendment is consistent with national 
standard 5. See NMFS' responses to Comments 2 and 5.
    Comment 10. The sole purpose of Amendment 2 is economic allocation, 
thus it is not consistent with national standard 5 of the Magnuson Act. 
A factual basis for a claim of an advantage to be gained for management 
of the fishery under Amendment 2 is lacking. Social claims that are 
cast in terms of benefits to local Alaskan communities are 
    Response. NMFS disagrees. The sole purpose of the amendment is not 
allocative. NMFS acknowledges that the amendment may have some indirect 
allocative effects and this is addressed in the response to Comment 7. 
Claims of advantages to management and of social benefits to local 
communities are clearly evident from the 1993 fishery, which was 
essentially managed as if it were superexclusive.
    Comment 11. Amendment 2 is not consistent with national standard 6 
of the Magnuson Act in that it does not allow for, or respond to, 
variations and contingencies in the Norton Sound summer king crab 
fishery. Amendment 2 encourages unconstrained building of new capacity 
for the fishery and does not address the prospect of overcapacity. It 
does not provide any advantage over the status quo management for 
contending with the likely influx of excessive capacity or the probable 
periodic decline of the resource base.
    Response. NMFS disagrees. The amendment is consistent with national 
standard 6. Title 50 CFR 602.16(b) provides that fisheries exhibit 
unique uncertainties and that the particular management regime chosen 
must be flexible enough to allow timely response to resource, industry, 
national, and regional needs. Continual data acquisition and analysis 
will help the development of management measures to compensate for 
variations and to reduce the need for substantial buffers. Flexibility 
in the management regime and the regulatory process will aid in 
responding to contingencies. The likelihood of a timely response, 
continual inseason data acquisition, and management flexibility is 
greatly enhanced when the duration of the fishery is extended, as can 
be expected with a superexclusive registration status. The amendment 
does not encourage unconstrained capacity. See NMFS' responses to 
Comments 2 and 5.
    Comment 12. Amendment 2 is not consistent with national standard 7 
of the Magnuson Act in that a predicted increase in the length of the 
fishery and the associated reporting period will increase management 
and enforcement costs, rather than minimize them.
    Response. The amendment is consistent with national standard 7. 
Costs to manage the fishery likely will be less under the 
superexclusive regime. Based on a review of the EA, the SSC concurred 
in this finding in its January report to the Council. The single 
greatest enforcement cost for a crab fishery is aerial surveys. When a 
fishery experiences a lengthened season, reduced effort, and a fleet 
dependent on daily shoreside deliveries, the need for aerial surveys is 
drastically reduced, if not eliminated. These same conditions also 
allow area managers to more easily administer the crab fishery along 
with other fishery duties. Therefore, in terms of management and 
enforcement costs, it is essentially more cost-effective to manage a 
relatively longer fishery than a very short one that requires labor-
intensive aerial surveys.
    Comment 13. The Magnuson Act allows for establishment of a system 
for limiting access to a fishery in order to achieve optimum yield. 
Amendment 2 cannot be characterized as being a measure calculated to 
achieve OY. Further, the EA does not genuinely take into account the 
full range of requisite considerations that must be considered when 
limiting access to a fishery.
    Response. NMFS disagrees. The amendment can be characterized as a 
measure calculated to achieve OY. See NMFS' response to Comment 2. The 
amendment is not a form of limited access. As described at 50 CFR 
602.15(c), a system for limiting access is a type of allocation of 
fishing privileges which attempts to limit units of effort in a 
fishery. Typically, the number of units of effort has been 
predetermined and those participating in the fishery must satisfy 
certain established criteria. Common forms of limited access are 
licensing of vessels, gear, or fishermen to reduce the number of units 
of effort, and dividing the total allowable catch into fishermen's 
quotas. There is no limit on the amount of effort that can occur in the 
fishery. Therefore, the amendment is not a form of limited access. A 
vessel operator need only register for the area in which he wishes to 
fish. Registration requirements are used to: (1) Make better preseason 
estimates of fishing effort and the rate at which resources will be 
harvested in each area so that the inseason monitoring of the fishery 
may be planned; and (2) limit the ability of vessels to fish in 
multiple areas, so that fishing effort is dispersed, while still 
allowing the majority of the fleet the opportunity to harvest the 
majority of the crab.
    Comment 14. There is no evidence that vessel safety will improve 
under Amendment 2. It is more likely that a deterioration of safety 
will occur as more small vessels operate over longer periods of time in 
the open waters of the Northern Bering Sea fishery. The EA notes that 
weather conditions can create real safety problems for small vessels.
    Response. NMFS believes that vessel safety considerations would not 
be exacerbated if longer periods of time were available to fish. 
Similar to the halibut fishery, which historically is conducted derby-
style, a longer time period to harvest the available quota would allow 
vessel operators to remain shoreside during dangerous weather 


    NMFS prepared a FRFA, a copy of which is available from the Council 
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of E.O. 12866.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 671

    Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: May 25, 1994.
Charles Karnella,
Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 671 is amended 
as follows:


    1. The authority citation for part 671 continues to read as 

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

    2. Section 671.20 is removed and reserved.
[FR Doc. 94-13303 Filed 5-26-94; 3:13p.m.]