[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 93 (Tuesday, May 15, 2007)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 27276-27280]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-9329]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 061219338-6338-01; I.D. 120806A]
RIN 0648-AU69


Fisheries off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 
Amendment 15

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: The Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) requests public comments 
on a proposed rule to implement Amendment 15 to the Pacific Coast 
Salmon Fisheries Management Plan (Plan) in accordance with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act). This Amendment was approved by NMFS on March 22, 2007, 
and in accordance with the notification procedures of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) was notified 
of this approval. This action is intended to provide management 
flexibility in times of low Klamath River fall-run Chinook (KRFC) 
abundance, while preserving the long-term productive capacity of the 
stock and thereby ensuring it continues to contribute meaningfully to 
ocean and river fisheries in the future.

DATES: A notice of availability (NOA) of Amendment 15 was published on 
December 20, 2006 under the RIN 0648-AV07. Written comments on the 
amendment's NOA were due February 20, 2007. Written comments on this 
proposed rule must be received by June 28, 2007.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by ``I.D. 120806A'' by 
an of the following methods:
     Email: [email protected]
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments, and include ``I.D. 
120806A'' in the subject line of the message.
     Mail: D. Robert Lohn, Administrator, Northwest Region, 
NMFS, Sand Point Way NE, BIN C15700, Seattle, WA 98115-0070; or to 
Rodney R. McInnis, Administrator, Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 West 
Ocean Boulevard, Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-4213.
     Fax: 206-526-6426

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McAvinchey by phone at 206- 526-
6140, fax 206-526-6736 and email at [email protected], or Eric 
Chavez by phone at 508-980-4064, email at [email protected], fax 
508-908-4047 or contact Pacific Fishery Management Council by phone at 
503-820-2290 or by fax at 503-820-2299.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan (FMP) was 
developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC or Council) 
under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., and approved by 
the Secretary in 1978. Since then, the FMP has been amended 14 times, 
with implementing regulations codified at 50 CFR part 660, subpart H. 
From 1979 to 1983, the FMP was amended annually. In 1984, a framework 
amendment was implemented that provided the mechanism for making 
preseason and inseason adjustments in the regulations without annual 
amendments.
    Amendment 9 to the FMP was approved in 1988 and implemented in 
ocean fishing regulations effective May 1, 1989. This Salmon FMP 
amendment codified the harvest rate management

[[Page 27277]]

approach developed by the Klamath River Salmon Management Group 
(KRSMG)and approved by the Klamath Fishery Management Council and the 
Council. It called for the regulation of ocean fisheries to meet a 
spawner reduction rate of up to 65 percent (later increased to 67 
percent) of each brood of KRFC except that 35,000 naturally spawning 
adults would be protected in all years, creating a conservation floor. 
In the Klamath Basin, ``natural'' spawners refers to spawning location, 
not to parental origin; i.e., hatchery origin fish spawning in a 
natural stream are counted as natural spawners. Various allowable ocean 
and river harvest rate combinations were specified in the Salmon FMP. 
The tribal and non-tribal harvest sharing agreement in effect at the 
time allowed for ocean and river harvest rates of up to 35 percent and 
50 percent, respectively, based on age-4 fish. The harvest rate 
approach was adopted because of uncertainty in the capacity of the 
Basin for fall-run Chinook salmon. The harvest rate plan recommended by 
the Klamath River Technical Team was subsequently adopted as part of 
Salmon Plan Amendment 9. The Council concluded that inclusion of the 
conservation floor protected the stock by reducing the risk of 
prolonged depressed production, provided greater long term yield, and 
resulted in a high probability of attaining sufficient escapement for 
hatchery production. When the escapement floor was adopted into the 
Salmon FMP through Amendment 9, the Council required that modification 
of the floor could only occur by Plan amendment.
    Under the FMP a conservation alert is triggered when the projected 
stock abundance is less than 35,000 natural spawners. When a 
conservation alert is triggered, the FMP requires closure of all salmon 
fisheries within the Council's jurisdiction that impact the stock.
    The Council prepared Amendment 15 to the FMP under the provisions 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and submitted it for review by the 
Secretary. A NOA for Amendment 15 was filed with the Office of the 
Federal Register on December 19, 2006, announcing a public comment 
period.
    The impetus for this initiative began in 2005 because management 
measures adopted to protect Klamath River fall-run Chinook salmon 
(KRFC) reduced access to a projected high ocean abundance of Sacramento 
River fall-run Chinook salmon. The need was elevated in 2006 when 
projected low abundance of KRFC led the Council and NMFS to conclude 
that even more restrictive management measures were needed. NMFS' 
implementing rules do not allow for any level of minimal or limited 
catch of KRFC when the projected stock abundance is less than 35,000 
natural spawners (Conservation Alert Standard); the only option to 
allow for such fishing is to amend the FMP following the Magnuson-
Stevens Act procedures or to implement an emergency rule.
    In 2006, the status of KRFC included a failure to meet the 35,000 
natural spawner escapement floor for the stock for the past two years, 
and a projected natural spawner escapement of less than 35,000 natural 
spawners. After reviewing the available data on the stock during its 
March and April meetings, and in collaboration with NMFS, the states, 
tribes, and ocean fishermen, the Council determined that conditions in 
2006 met the criteria to temporarily amend the Salmon FMP KRFC 
conservation objective to allow a limited fishery that would allow a 
projected natural escapement of 21,100 natural adult spawners. This 
increase in impacts to KRFC was determined to be acceptable in terms of 
maintaining the long-term productivity of the stock while minimizing to 
the extent practicable the economic impacts on the fishing community 
and states. NMFS concurred with the Council assessment and implemented 
emergency regulations effective May 1, 2006. Emergency action was taken 
to allow minimal impact on KRFC in directed ocean salmon fisheries 
between Cape Falcon, Oregon and Point Sur, California in 2006 (71 FR 
26254, May 4, 2006).
    The purpose of Amendment 15 is two-fold: (1) to give more 
flexibility to the management process when the escapement floor of 
35,000 natural spawners for KRFC is projected not to be met; and (2) to 
provide for appropriate opportunities to access more robust Chinook 
salmon stocks that are typically available in the Council managed area. 
This amendment would, in appropriate circumstances, allow for the 
Council to develop and recommend fisheries, and NMFS to implement 
fisheries without the need for an emergency rule in years when the 
abundance of KRFC are low.
    The Council identified a preferred alternative at the November 2006 
Council meeting. Under the preferred alternative Amendment 15 would 
allow the Council to recommend and NMFS to implement in the case of 
Klamath River fall Chinook, to implement de minimis fisheries, which 
would: permit an ocean impact rate of no more than 10 percent on age-4 
Klamath River fall Chinook, if the projected natural spawning 
escapement associated with a 10 percent age-4 ocean impact rate, 
including river recreational and tribal impacts, is between 22,000 and 
35,000. If the projected natural escapement associated with a 10 
percent age-4 ocean impact rate is less than 22,000, the allowable age-
4 ocean impact rate shall be reduced to reflect the status of the 
stock. During the preseason planning process to set an allowable age-4 
ocean impact rate the Council shall consider the following:
    a. Critically low natural spawner abundance, including the risk of 
Klamath Basin substocks dropping below crucial genetic thresholds;
    b. A series of low spawner abundance in recent years;
    c. The status of co-mingled stocks;
    d. El Nino or other adverse environmental conditions;
    e. Endangered Species Act (ESA) considerations; and
    f. Other considerations as appropriate.
    When considering these items, the Council shall determine that the 
final ocean impact rate will not jeopardize the capacity of the fishery 
to produce the maximum sustainable yield on a continuing basis. 
Implementation of de minimis fisheries will depend on year specific 
estimates of ocean abundance and age composition, which will be 
determined by the STT prior to the March Council meeting. Ocean fishery 
impacts to the returning brood incurred during the previous fall/winter 
fisheries will be counted against the allowable age-4 ocean impact 
rate. Amendment 15 does not require that a de minimis fishery be 
implemented if the natural spawner floor is not met. The provisions of 
Amendment 15 allow the Council to consider implementing a de minimis 
fishery that would be limited to no more than 10 percent age-4 ocean 
impact rate based on the above described criteria.
    Allowing limited opportunity for harvest when fisheries would 
otherwise be closed should lessen severe economic consequences to local 
communities and states. Historically, KRFC was a primary contributor to 
marine fisheries off the coasts of Oregon and California. While this 
amendment seeks to provide additional management flexibility in times 
of low KRFC abundance, the overriding purpose of the FMP remains to 
preserve the long-term productive capacity of the stock and thereby 
ensure it continues to contribute meaningfully to ocean and river 
fisheries in the future. This amendment does not change the 35,000 
natural spawner conservation floor. Annual estimates of fishery 
catches, spawner escapements, spawner age composition and coded wire 
tag contributions are usually available by

[[Page 27278]]

early to mid-January each year for use by the Salmon Technical Team 
(STT) and the KRTAT in updating KRFC fishery resource estimates, 
models, and forecasts.

Amendment 15 Approval

    Approval of this amendment by NMFS is conditioned upon its 
understanding of the particular meaning and intention of the amendment. 
In its March 22, 2007 letter to the PFMC, NMFS expressed the following 
understanding, which will be used by NMFS in applying Amendment 15:
    As you know, the purpose of Amendment 15 is to provide limited 
opportunity for harvest when fisheries would otherwise be closed to 
mitigate, to the degree possible, severe economic consequences to 
local communities and states. Historically, Klamath River fall 
Chinook (KRFC) was a primary contributor to marine fisheries off the 
coasts of Oregon and California. While this amendment seeks to 
provide additional management flexibility in times of low KRFC 
abundance, the overriding purpose remains to preserve the long-term 
productive capacity of the stock and thereby ensure it continues to 
contribute meaningfully to ocean and river fisheries in the future.
    The Council prepared Amendment 15 to the FMP under the 
provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and submitted it for review 
by the Secretary on December 13, 2006. A notice of availability for 
Amendment 15 was published in the Federal Register on December 20, 
2006 announcing a public comment period, this comment period closed 
on February 20, 2007. A proposed rule to implement Amendment 15 is 
currently under review, and we expect to have the final rule 
effective for the 2008 fishing season. Regulations implementing 
Amendment 15 will include an amended Federal regulation at 50 CFR 
660.410.
    It should be clearly understood that we do not interpret 
Amendment 15 to set a fixed schedule of allowable salmon harvest 
whenever the forecasted abundance of natural spawners falls within 
the range of 35,000 to 12,000. Rather, we understand Amendment 15 to 
allow the Council to entertain, without emergency rulemaking, the 
possibility of some de minimis harvest of KRFC in order to allow 
mixed stock ocean fisheries to occur when the preseason forecast of 
naturally-spawning KRFC falls below 35,000.
    Nothing in this Amendment automatically predetermines that a 
particular level of harvest of Klamath fall Chinook will be 
acceptable or allowed. The extent of the harvest actually allowed in 
a particular year will be limited by the general requirements of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act to maintain maximum sustainable fisheries on a 
continuing basis, by the specific factors listed in Amendment 15, 
and by the requirement to meet our trust responsibilities to 
affected Indian tribes.
    The factors for consideration listed in the Amendment are 
important and need to be weighed based on the specific circumstances 
of each applicable future harvest season, and using the best 
available scientific information, which will continue to develop in 
the future. We anticipate that the maximum allowable 10 percent 
ocean impact rate will be implemented only when the anticipated 
escapement is near the 35,000 natural spawner floor. As escapement 
falls below approximately 30,000 the impact rate will need to 
decline substantially.
    There may be some opportunity for harvest when projected 
escapements are in the range of 12,000 to 22,000, but the 
opportunity would be limited at best, and justified only to the 
degree that there are mitigating year specific circumstances. We 
acknowledge that, in 2006, Klamath fall Chinook harvests were 
approved down to a projected escapement of 22,000. However, this 
determination was based on the unique circumstances of that year and 
should not be understood as a precedent that harvest at that level 
will be regularly acceptable. In addition, although the Amendment 
allows for harvest if escapement is projected below 12,000, when we 
take into account the considerations stated in Amendment 15, we see 
little or no prospect for harvest when projected escapement is at 
that level.
    We will continue to work with the Council to support the best 
possible fishery management decisions. While we hope that the 
Klamath runs will rebuild to the point that it will not be necessary 
to even consider harvest questions at the levels described in 
Amendment 15, should it become necessary to do so, we will work 
closely with you to develop an appropriate evaluation and sound 
decision based on what we know at that time.

Classification

    NMFS has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the 
FMP amendment and preliminarily determined that the rule is consistent 
with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, details of 
each are as follows.
    The Council prepared an environmental assessment for this FMP 
amendment that discusses the impact on the environment as a result of 
this rule. A copy of the environmental assessment is available from the 
Council (see ADDRESSES).
    This proposed rule has been determined to be significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The 
IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, 
would have on small entities. A description of the action, why it is 
being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained at 
the beginning of this section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY 
section of the preamble. A summary of the analysis follows.
    Commercial salmon harvesting vessels buyers/processors, and 
charter/party boats are expected to be the only type of small entities 
directly impacted by the proposed action. Section 603 (b)(1)-(5) of the 
RFA identifies the elements that should be included in the IRFA. These 
elements are bulleted below, followed by information that addresses 
each element.
     Description of the reasons why action by the agency is 
being considered:
    This action is needed to prevent fishery restrictions that impose 
severe economic consequences to local communities and states. 
Historically, KRFC was a primary contributor to marine fisheries off 
the coasts of Oregon and California. While the FMP amendment seeks to 
provide management flexibility in times of scarcity, there is an 
overriding purpose to preserve the long-term productive capacity of the 
stock to ensure meaningful contributions to ocean and river fisheries 
in the future.
     Statement of the objectives of, and legal basis for, the 
proposed rule:
    The Salmon FMP directs ocean salmon fishery management actions 
relative to the exclusive economic zone(EEZ) off the coasts of 
Washington, Oregon, and California. Under the existing Salmon FMP, a 
preseason projection that the conservation floor for KRFC will not be 
met triggers a Conservation Alert, which provides the Council and NMFS 
only one option: to close all salmon fisheries within its jurisdiction 
that impact the stock. These fisheries include ocean salmon fisheries 
between Cape Falcon, Oregon and Point Sur, California. Currently, any 
other option can only be addressed through the emergency regulation 
process as provided in the Magnuson-Steven Act and implemented by NMFS.
    The purpose of Amendment 15 is two-fold: (1) to give more 
flexibility to the management process when the escapement floor of 
35,000 natural spawners for KRFC is projected not to be met; and (2) to 
provide for appropriate opportunities to access more robust Chinook 
salmon stocks that are typically available in the Council managed area. 
This amendment would, in appropriate circumstances, allow for the 
Council to develop and recommend fisheries, and NMFS to implement 
fisheries without the need for an emergency rule in years when the 
abundance of KRFC are low.
     Description of and an estimate of the number of small 
entities to which the proposed rule would apply:
    The small entities that would be affected by the proposed action 
are the vessels that compose the California and Oregon commercial 
salmon troll fleet and buyers/processors, the charter/party

[[Page 27279]]

boat fleet between Cape Falcon, Oregon, and Point Sur, California, and 
other fishery dependent businesses. In years with sufficient surplus, 
the Yurok and Hoopa Valley tribes sell salmon in excess of their 
subsistence needs. The generally acknowledged minimum tribal 
subsistence need is about 12,000 KRFC. In years that a Conservation 
Alert is triggered, it is unlikely the tribal share would exceed 12,000 
KRFC; therefore there would be no difference in economic impact to 
tribal businesses between the Status Quo and Preferred alternative. 
Therefore, no analysis of the tribal fishery in included in the IRFA.

Salmon Troll Fleet

    The financial impacts analysis focuses on the ex-vessel revenue 
effects of each alternative on salmon troll vessels. Financial impacts 
were evaluated based only on changes in salmon ex-vessel revenues 
relative to the Status Quo Alternative. Vessel counts are based on 
unique vessel identifiers. However, it is known that in many cases a 
single firm may own more than one vessel; therefore, the counts should 
be considered upper bound estimates. Additionally, businesses owning 
vessels may have revenue from fisheries in other geographic areas, such 
as Alaska, or from non-salmon fishing activities. Therefore, it is 
likely that when all operations of a firm are aggregated, some of the 
small entities identified here are actually larger than indicated. 
Approximately 2,718 vessels were permitted to operate in the commercial 
salmon troll fisheries in Oregon and/or California in 2005, although 
the active fleet was considerably smaller, with an average of 
approximately 1,068 vessels participating in 2003-2005. In addition, 
only about 13-19 percent of the active fleet landed 50 percent of the 
catch, and 52-55 percent of the fleet landed 90 percent of the catch in 
those years (STT 2006a). Of the 1,068 vessels, 40 percent participated 
only in salmon fisheries, while the other 60 percent participated in 
multiple fisheries. All of these vessels would be considered small 
businesses under the SBA standards. The active fleet participation is 
dynamic with respect to annual opportunity in the salmon fishery. In 
years with less opportunity, some salmon vessels choose not to 
participate, and either engage in other fisheries or sell out. In years 
with more opportunity, previously inactive vessels may choose to 
participate, or may be sold to more active fishermen. Under the Status 
Quo Alternative, there would be no participation in the commercial 
salmon fishery between Cape Falcon, Oregon and Point Sur, California 
during years that a Conservation Alert was triggered. Under the fixed 
cap alternatives, the active fleet was projected to be approximately 
268 to 354. The 2003-2005 average salmon related revenue per troll 
vessel was estimated at $20,900. For salmon only troll vessels the 
average was $14,300 and for multiple species troll vessels the average 
was $25,200. Under the fixed cap alternatives, the average salmon-
related revenue was projected at $1.6 million to 3.1 million in a 
Conservation Alert Year and applying a medium troller success rate 
scenario.

Processors/Buyers

    A relatively small number of large processor/buyer firms handle 
most of the ocean salmon catch on the West Coast. There were 464 firms 
with state processor/buyer licenses that sold salmon in Oregon and 
California in 2004 (PFMC and NMFS 2006). These firms include both 
operators of processing plants and buyers that may do little more than 
hold the fish prior to their shipment to a processor or market. In some 
cases, the buyers may be owners of vessels who also own licenses 
allowing them to sell fish directly to the public or retail markets. 
Most larger salmon buying firms acquire fish from sites in more than 
one port. The largest salmon buyers tend to buy salmon from many 
vessels landing and buy fish in several ports. The top ocean caught 
salmon buying firms include some firms that are not among the top fish 
buyers when all species are counted. Larger processing firms are more 
likely to handle ocean caught salmon than smaller firms. However, there 
are many small buyers that specialize in salmon, only handle small 
amounts of product, and receive product from one or two vessels. It is 
likely that most of these buyers are vessels that also have licenses 
allowing them to sell directly to the public or other retail 
outlets(e.g., restaurants). A thorough analysis of the effects of the 
Preferred Alternative would include estimates of the numbers of vessels 
acting as buyers/processors, as well as other buyer/processor sectors, 
the recent history of revenue generated by the various classes of 
buyer/processors, and a projection of revenue generated under the 
Status Quo and Preferred alternatives in Conservation Alert years. 
However, because many of the small business buyer/processors include 
vessel ownership, and because most buyer/processors deal in multiple 
fisheries, it is likely the effects of the Preferred Alternative are 
proportional to those estimated and projected for the salmon troll 
fleet above.

Charter/Party Boats

    Approximately 103 charter boats participated in California 
recreational ocean salmon fisheries in 2003-2005 (STT 2006a). In 
Oregon, there was an average of 211 licensed charter vessels during 
these same years. An estimated 6 percent of the Oregon charter effort 
occurred in the Astoria area during 2003-2005 (STT 2006a). In Oregon 
there was an average of 211 licensed charter vessels. There was no 
information available for port of operation for Oregon charter vessels, 
but an average of 18 percent of Oregon charter based salmon trips 
originated in the Astoria area. There was also no information available 
on fishery participation for Oregon vessels, and some may not have 
engaged in salmon fishing. Conversely, it is likely that most of the 
Charter fleet in both states participated in fisheries other than 
salmon, such as California halibut, Pacific Halibut, bottomfish, and 
albacore.
    Separate economic impact estimates were not available for charter 
and private boat salmon fishing sectors; however during 2003-2005, 
Oregon and California recreational salmon fishing effort averaged 
297,200 angler trips for both boat types, with charter boat fishing 
averaging 31 percent of the total during. Based on this assumption the 
projected state level income impact of the de minimis fishery 
alternatives under the fixed cap alternatives in a Conservation Alert 
Year ranged from $6.2 million to $6.8 million dollars. For the Status 
Quo Alternative the economic impact was about $322,000. Based on an 
assumed fleet of 314 vessels, the average economic impact per vessel 
was about $3,200 for the Status Quo Alternative and $19,700 to $21,700 
annually for the fixed cap alternatives.

Other Small Businesses

    In addition to commercial fishing vessels, other fishery-dependent 
businesses that may be affected include suppliers, buyers who act as 
intermediaries between vessels and consumers, processors who purchase 
raw materials from commercial vessels to produce seafood products, and 
charter or party vessels that provide recreational fishing experience 
for paying customers, among others. A thorough accounting of net 
benefits would include measurement of producer surpluses accruing to 
these business sectors as well as to fishing vessels.
     A description of the projected reporting, recordkeeping, 
and other compliance requirements of the proposed rule, including an 
estimate of

[[Page 27280]]

the classes of small entities that will be subject to the requirements 
of the report or record:
    There were no new reporting or recordkeeping requirements that are 
proposed as part of this action.
     An identification, to the extent practicable, of all 
relevant Federal rules, which may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with 
the proposed rule:
    No Federal rules have been identified that duplicate, overlap, or 
conflict with the alternatives. Public comment is hereby solicited, 
identifying such rules.
     A description of any significant alternatives to the 
proposed rule that accomplish the stated objectives that would minimize 
any significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities:
    The decision to set the de minimis harvest rate cap at 10 percent 
was determined through the consideration of ecological, fishery, and 
economic effects of each alternative. It should be noted that 
modification of the current 35,000 naturally spawning adult floor to 
some other value would not address the issue of de minimis fishing 
opportunity in low abundance years, which is a primary reason for the 
current FMP amendment effort. The Council was presented with modeling 
results from the Salmon Amendment Committee (SAC) at its September 
meeting which examined each of the alternatives. These results showed 
little difference in long term effects on the stock size between each 
of the proposed alternatives. Differences among the de minimis 
alternatives (status quo, 5 percent, 10 percent, 13 percent) in terms 
of aggregate salmon troll revenues and associated income impacts 
indicated little difference among the alternatives in terms of long-
term economic effects. The alternatives, however, indicated more 
substantial differences when the analysis focused on fishery outcomes 
in Conservation Alert years. The 13 percent alternative showed a higher 
probability of the age-4 ocean harvest rate going above 16 percent, 
which is the ESA Consultation Standard for threatened California 
Coastal Chinook. The 13 percent alternative also showed a higher 
probability of reducing the tributary spawning escapement below 720, 
which is considered to be a crucial genetic threshold. The 5 percent 
and the status quo alternatives were also examined and while they would 
both be a lower catch limit than the 10 percent and 13 percent 
alternatives they would provide little in the way of economic benefit 
to the fishery. The 10 percent alternative was chosen because it will 
not impact the long term productivity of the stock, especially when 
provisions are set to reduce the cap as needed and it provides some 
economic relief to the fishery. The model projections showed that the 
10 percent alternative would allow for more fishing days, a higher 
catch of KRFC and a higher revenue than the 5 percent alternative.
    This rule provides authority under certain circumstances for de 
minimis fisheries. The specific impacts of annual measures will be 
assessed annually during the development of annual measures. 
Additionally, the specific impacts of any de minimis fisheries pursuant 
to the authority of Amendment 15 will be assessed at that time.
    Since 1989, NMFS has listed 27 ESUs of salmonids on the West Coast. 
As the listings have occurred, NMFS has conducted formal ESA section 7 
consultations and issued biological opinions, and made determinations 
under section 4(d) of the ESA, that consider the impacts to listed 
salmonid species resulting from proposed implementation of the Salmon 
FMP, or in some cases, from proposed implementation of the annual 
management measures. Associated with the biological opinions are 
incidental take statements that specify the level of take that is 
expected. Some of the biological opinions have concluded that 
implementation of the Salmon FMP is not likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of certain listed salmonid ESUs and provide 
incidental take statements. Other biological opinions have found that 
implementation of the Salmon FMP is likely to jeopardize certain listed 
ESUs and have identified reasonable and prudent alternatives 
(consultation standards) that would avoid the likelihood of 
jeopardizing the continued existence of the ESU under consideration, 
and provided an incidental take statement for the reasonable and 
prudent alternative.
    NMFS has determined that fishing activities conducted pursuant to 
this rule will affect endangered and threatened species and critical 
habitat under the ESA but will not jeopardize the continued existence 
of those species. NMFS will continue to assess the impact of the 
fishery each year during the development of annual measures. All 
alternatives would meet NMFS ESA consultation standards for listed 
salmon stocks.
    The West Coast ocean salmon fisheries are considered a Category III 
fishery under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, indicating a remote 
likelihood of or no known serious injuries or mortalities to marine 
mammals, in the annual list of fisheries published in the Federal 
Register. Based on its Category III status, the incidental take of 
marine mammals in the West Coast salmon fisheries does not 
significantly impact marine mammal stocks.
    Klamath River tribes with federally recognized fishing rights may 
be impacted by Council-area fisheries. Accordingly the FMP amendment 
was developed with consideration of tribal fishing rights. The Hoopa 
Valley Tribe and the Yurok Tribe were both represented on the Council's 
Ad Hoc Salmon Amendment Committee, which was responsible for 
development of this FMP amendment. In accordance with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act there is a tribal representative on the Council. A copy of 
the Environmental Assessment is available from the Council.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: May 9, 2007.
William T. Hogarth,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
    For the reason set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 
CFR part 660 as follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

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

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
    2.In Sec.  660.410 revise paragraph (b)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.410  Conservation objectives.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) A comprehensive technical review of the best scientific 
information available provides conclusive evidence that, in the view of 
the Council, the Scientific and Statistical Committee, and the Salmon 
Technical Team, justifies modification of a conservation objective: 
except that the 35,000 natural spawner floor and the de minimis fishing 
provisions for Klamath River fall Chinook may be changed only by 
amendment.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. E7-9329 Filed 5-14-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S