[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 16 (Wednesday, January 24, 1996)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 1843-1845]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-949]


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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 676

[Docket No. 951002243-6004-02; I.D. 092695B]
RIN 0648-AG99

Limited Access Management of Federal Fisheries In and Off of 
Alaska; Relieving Transfer Restrictions on Individual Fishing Quota 

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

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: NMFS issues a final rule that would implement Amendment 32 to 
the Fishery Management Plan for the Groundfish Fishery of the Bering 
Sea and Aleutian Islands Area (BSAI) and Amendment 36 to the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This final 
rule is necessary to facilitate full utilization of the allocated 
resources managed under the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program for 
the Pacific halibut and sablefish fixed gear fisheries in and off of 
Alaska and is intended to relieve transfer restrictions on Community 
Development Quota compensation quota shares (CDQ compensation QS), 
thereby allowing transfers to persons that could use the resulting IFQ 
to harvest the resource.

EFFECTIVE DATE: February 23, 1996.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the final rule and the Regulatory Impact Review 
(RIR) for this action may be obtained from: Fisheries Management 
Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, 709 W. 9th Street, Room 453, Juneau, AK 
99801, or P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802, Attention: Lori J. Gravel.




    The IFQ Program for the Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) 
and sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) fixed gear fisheries in the areas 
defined in 50 CFR 676.10 (b) and (c) is a regulatory regime recommended 
by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) to promote 
the conservation and management of these fisheries and to further the 
objectives of the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act and 
the Northern Pacific Halibut Act. Persons holding quota share (QS), 
which represents a transferable harvest privilege, receive an annual 
allocation of IFQ. Persons receiving an annual allocation of IFQ are 
authorized to harvest, within specified limitations, IFQ species. 
Further information on the implementation of the IFQ Program, and the 
rationale supporting it, is contained in the preamble to the final rule 
implementing the IFQ Program published November 9, 1993 (58 FR 59375). 
Additions and/or changes to the final rule implementing the IFQ Program 
were published June 1, 1994 (59 FR 28281); August 24, 1994 (59 FR 
43502), corrected October 13, 1994 (59 FR 51874); October 7, 1994 (59 
FR 51135); February 2, 1995 (60 FR 6448); March 3, 1995 (60 FR 11916); 
March 6, 1995 (60 FR 12152); May 5, 1995 (60 FR 22307); and August 31, 
1995 (60 FR 45378).
    The CDQ Program for Pacific halibut and sablefish was proposed and 
implemented in conjunction with the IFQ Program. The CDQ Program 
apportioned designated percentages of the annual fixed gear total 
allowable catch (TAC) for halibut and sablefish to eligible western 
Alaska communities. The harvest of these designated percentages was 
intended to provide residents of eligible communities with stable, 
long-term employment and to increase the participation of residents of 
eligible communities in near-shore fisheries.
    Apportioning designated percentages of the annual fixed gear TAC 
for Pacific halibut and sablefish to eligible western Alaska 
communities reduced the amount of that TAC available for harvest by 
persons receiving annual allocations of IFQ. Therefore, CDQ 
compensation QS were issued as partial compensation to persons who 
received QS in CDQ areas, because the amount of Pacific halibut and 
sablefish available for harvest with IFQ in CDQ areas was reduced.
    The final rule implementing Amendments 32 and 36 is intended to 
increase the remunerative value of CDQ compensation QS by relieving the 
existing transfer restrictions on initial recipients of those shares. 
Transfer restrictions are relieved by (1) exempting some CDQ 
compensation QS from the block provision, and (2) allowing some CDQ 
compensation QS to be transferred across vessel length categories.

Exemption From the Block Provision

    The block provision was added to the IFQ Program to prevent 
excessive consolidation of fishing privileges, to promote higher levels 
of harvesting employment, and to provide diversity in fishing 
operations participating in the IFQ program. Preventing excessive 
consolidation was accomplished by (1) issuing as a block all initial 
allocations of QS that represented less than 20,000 lb (9 mt) of IFQ 
based on the 1994 TAC and (2) restricting persons from holding more 
than two blocks for each IFQ species and IFQ regulatory area. One 
unintended effect was the blocking of all CDQ compensation QS.
    Blocked CDQ compensation QS, especially small blocks (several 
pounds to several hundred pounds of IFQ), is difficult to market 
because any block, no matter how small, is counted as part of the two-
block restriction. This difficulty in marketing is contrary to the 
purpose of CDQ compensation QS, which is to compensate persons that 
received less QS in their traditional fishing areas because of 
allocations of the TAC to the CDQ Program. Exempting CDQ compensation 
QS from the block provision provides greater flexibility to persons 
that plan to transfer their CDQ compensation QS.

Transfer Across Catcher Vessel Length Categories

    The Council included vessel length categories in the IFQ Program 
because of significant public concern that harvest privileges would be 
consolidated excessively into large vessel fishing operations. By 
restricting transfers across vessel length categories, the Council 
ensured that the fixed gear fishing fleet would remain relatively 
diversified and similar in overall character to the fleet prior to the 
program's implementation. The Council determined that maintaining a 
diversified fleet was critical to the socioeconomic well-being of 
coastal communities in Alaska that rely, in part, on the small vessel 
fleet as a source of revenue.
    This objective would not be contradicted by a 1-year period of 
relief from the restriction against transferring across vessel length 
categories. Another vessel category designated by fish product type 
(Category ``A''--vessels of any length authorized to process IFQ 
species) was also included in the IFQ Program; however, because 
Category ``A'' is not restricted by length it is not included in the 1-
year period of relief. A large portion of the CDQ compensation QS 
recipients are small vessel operators based in coastal communities 
located on the Bering Sea. This action would enable small vessel 
operators in the BSAI management area for sablefish and in IFQ 
regulatory areas 4A, 4B, 4C, and 4D for halibut to transfer their CDQ 
compensation QS in 

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the GOA to larger vessel operators who, in turn, could transfer their 
initially issued QS in the BSAI management area for sablefish and in 
IFQ regulatory areas 4A, 4B, 4C, and 4D for halibut to the small vessel 
operators. The coastal communities that rely on the small vessel fleet 
would be benefited by having IFQ in more accessible areas. Further, 
this action would not significantly change the overall character of the 
fleet because CDQ compensation QS accounts for less than 3 percent of 
the total amount of QS; therefore, the net gain or loss in any one 
vessel length category likely would be insignificant.

Comments on and Changes to the Proposed Rule

    NMFS received no comments on the proposed rule. As no changes were 
suggested, NMFS has determined that the rule, as proposed, implements 
Amendments 32 and 36 as intended by the Council. The final rule 
contains two wording changes from the proposed rule. Both changes were 
for clarification only; the effects of the regulations in the final 
rule are the same as were proposed.


    An RIR was prepared for this final rule that describes the 
management background, the purpose and need for action, the management 
action alternatives, and the social impacts of the alternatives. The 
RIR also estimates the total number of small entities affected by this 
action, and analyzes the economic impact on those small entities. 
Copies of the RIR can be obtained from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    The Assistant General Counsel for Legislation and Regulation 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this action does not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    This final rule has been categorically excluded from further 
environmental assessment pursuant to NOAA Administrative Order 216-6, 
section 6.02b.3.(b)(ii)(aa) because the actions pursuant to this rule 
do not result in a significant change in the original IFQ Program.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required 
to respond to nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to 
comply with a collection of information subject to the requirements of 
the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection of information 
displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
control number. This final rule will not change the collection of 
information approved by OMB, OMB Control Number 0648-0272, for the 
Pacific halibut and sablefish IFQ Program.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of E.O. 12866.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 676

    Alaska fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: January 18, 1996.
Gary Matlock,
Program Management Officer, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 676 is amended 
as follows:


    1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 676 continues to read as 

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

    2. In Sec. 676.21, paragraph (h) is added to read as follows:

Sec. 676.21  Transfer of QS and IFQ.

* * * * *
    (h) Transfer across catcher vessel categories. (1) Persons issued 
CDQ compensation QS in a catcher vessel category, pursuant to 
Sec. 676.24(i), and in an IFQ regulatory area in which they do not hold 
QS other than CDQ compensation QS, may use that CDQ compensation QS on 
any catcher vessel. This exemption from catcher vessel categories ends 
upon the first transfer of the CDQ compensation QS. CDQ compensation QS 
being transferred will be permanently assigned to a specific catcher 
vessel category as designated by the person receiving the transfer.
    (2) (Applicable until February 24, 1997). Catcher vessel QS 
transferred as partial or total consideration for the transfer of CDQ 
compensation QS may be redesignated into a new catcher vessel category 
if the CDQ compensation QS being transferred can be used on any catcher 
vessel pursuant to the exemption in paragraph (h)(1) of this section 
and the person to which that CDQ compensation QS was issued is party to 
the transfer.
    (3) For purposes of this paragraph (h), CDQ compensation QS is 
quota share issued as compensation for Pacific halibut and sablefish 
harvest privileges foregone due to the CDQ Program, as provided in 
Sec. 676.24(i).
    3. In Sec. 676.22, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:

Sec. 676.22  Limitations on use of QS and IFQ.

    (a) The QS or IFQ specified for one IFQ regulatory area and one 
vessel category must not be used in a different IFQ regulatory area or 
vessel category, except as provided in paragraph (i)(3) of this 
section, or in Sec. 676.21(h)(1).
* * * * *
    4. In Sec. 676.24, paragraph (i)(3) is revised to read as follows:

Sec. 676.24  Western Alaska Community Development Quota Program.

* * * * *
    (i) * * *
    (3) Persons initially issued QS for IFQ regulatory areas in which a 
portion of the TAC is allocated to the CDQ Program will be compensated 
for halibut and sablefish harvest privileges foregone due to the CDQ 
Program. If a person does not hold QS in an IFQ regulatory area on the 
date compensation is issued, that person's compensation will be issued 
as unblocked. If a person does hold QS in an IFQ regulatory area on the 
date compensation is issued, that person's compensation will be added 
to their existing QS in that IFQ regulatory area. The resulting QS 
amount will be blocked or unblocked according to the criteria found at 
Sec. 676.20(a). Compensation will be calculated for each non-CDQ area 
using the following formula:

QN=(QC x QSPN x RATE) / 


QN=quota share in non-CDQ area
QC=quota share in CDQ area
QSPN=quota share pool in non-CDQ area (as existing on January 31, 
RATE=SUMCDQ/average of the TAC (1988-1994) for all CDQ and non-CDQ 
TACAVE=average of the TAC (1988-1994) for CDQ area
QSPC=quota share pool in CDQ area (as existing on January 31, 
CDQPCT=CDQ percentage for CDQ area
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 96-949 Filed 1-23-96; 8:45 am]