[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 132 (Monday, July 13, 2009)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 33372-33373]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-16531]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 071106669-81372-03]
RIN 0648-AU26

Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery; 
Amendment 12 to the Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan

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

ACTION: Final rule


SUMMARY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 12 to the 
Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) which would 
provide protection for all species of krill off the West Coast (i.e., 
California, Oregon and Washington). This rule would prohibit the 
harvest of all species of krill by any fishing vessel operating in the 
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the West Coast, and would also deny 
the use of exempted fishing permits to allow krill fishing.

DATES: Effective August 12, 2009.

ADDRESSES:  Copies of Amendment 12, which includes an Environmental 
Assessment/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis/Regulatory Impact 
Review, are available from Rodney R. McInnis, Regional Administrator, 
Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach,CA 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joshua B. Lindsay, Sustainable 
Fisheries Division, NMFS, at 562-980-4034 or Mike Burner, Pacific 
Fishery Management Council, at 503-820-2280.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The CPS fishery in the EEZ off the West 
Coast is managed under the CPS FMP, which was developed by the Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council) pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The CPS 
FMP was approved by the Secretary of Commerce on June 10, 1999, and was 
implemented by a final rule (64 FR 69888, December 15, 1999) that was 
codified at 50 CFR part 660, subpart I.
    Amendment 12, which was approved by the Secretary of Commerce on 
May 25, 2007, added all species of krill as a management unit species 
under the CPS FMP and placed krill under a newly established 
``prohibited harvest species'' category. This new category differs from 
the existing ``prohibited species'' definition in the FMP because 
``prohibited harvest species'' may not be taken by any fishery or gear 
type in the U.S. EEZ. In contrast, ``prohibited species'' may not be 
taken and retained incidentally by CPS fishery participants, but are 
legally harvested under provisions in Federal regulations implementing 
other Council FMPs.
    As the principal food source for many fish and non-fish species, 
krill are a critical component of the marine ecosystem. Off the West 
Coast krill are important prey for a variety of fish species, including 
several overfished groundfish species, salmon and Pacific whiting. 
Krill are also a principal food source for many species of marine 
mammals and seabirds, some of which are listed as threatened or 
endangered under the Endangered Species Act and warrant special efforts 
for protection and recovery. Although there is no indication that the 
status of the krill resource has contributed to the overfished, 
endangered, or threatened status of these species, protecting krill 
will help to maintain these important ecological relationships and to 
ensure the long-term health and productivity of the West Coast 
ecosystem. Amendment 12 incorporates ecosystem conservation principles 
into fishery management programs by protecting, to the extent

[[Page 33373]]

practicable, krill resources, which are an integral part of that 
    At this time, there are no Federal regulations that limit fishing 
for krill in the EEZ. While a krill fishery off the U.S. West Coast 
does not currently exist and there have been only limited expressions 
of interest in commercial exploitation of krill in the EEZ, NMFS is 
concerned such a fishery could develop, which could have an adverse 
impact on other West Coast fish stocks, marine mammals, seabirds and 
the ecosystem generally.
    The states of Washington, Oregon, and California prohibit their 
vessels from fishing for krill and prohibit landings of krill into 
their respective ports. However, these prohibitions would not prevent a 
fishery from developing in the West Coast EEZ by vessels from outside 
of the region, as long as landings were not made into a West Coast 
port. A market for krill currently exists in Washington and Oregon, 
where salmon farms use krill products as a supplemental feed. Federal 
(EEZ) waters that lie outside of the state prohibitions on krill 
harvest may in the future be used for fish farming. Such future 
operations could use krill as feed stock, and a fishery could develop 
around the needs of these aquaculture facilities. Local krill would 
likely be a potential food source, which may significantly increase the 
likelihood of a krill fishery developing within West Coast EEZ waters.
    NMFS is concerned about the potential impacts of a krill fishery 
based in part on information regarding large-scale krill fishing 
methods and the impacts of existing krill fisheries in other areas of 
the world. Krill concentrations attract aggregations of marine mammals, 
seabirds, and fish predators, and bycatch and/or disturbance of these 
organisms is likely to occur due to the trawl-type gear used to catch 
krill. In the Antarctic krill fishery, there is known bycatch of fur 
seals as well as various sea birds. In British Columbia, a krill 
fishery began in 1970, and quotas were established in 1976 due to 
concerns for harvesting a forage species upon which salmon and other 
commercially important finfish depend. An annual catch was set at 500 
tons with an open season from November to March to minimize the 
incidental catch of larval and juvenile fish.
    NMFS has considered the potential for development of a krill 
fishery and the potential impacts a fishery could have on krill 
resources and on the fish and other species, such as birds and mammals, 
that are dependent on, or that are sensitive to, the abundance and 
availability of krill. NMFS believes it is critical to take preventive 
action at this time to ensure that a krill fishery will not develop 
that could potentially harm krill stocks, and in turn harm other fish 
and non-fish stocks. In an environmental assessment prepared for this 
action, NMFS analyzed the option of allowing a small harvest of krill, 
but ultimately decided to approve the Council's recommendation to 
impose a simple prohibition, which is consistent with State law and 
easier to enforce and administer than a program allowing for low 
harvest levels.
    Under Amendment 12, krill (all species) would be added to the 
management unit species of the CPS FMP. Further, a new category of 
management unit species - ``prohibited harvest'' - would be established 
under the FMP. Krill would be placed in that category. This means that 
optimum yield (OY) for krill would be zero, and the target, harvest and 
transhipment of krill would be prohibited. Also, exempted fishing 
permits (EFPs) would not be issued under the EFP procedures of the CPS 
FMP to allow individuals to harvest krill as an exception to the 
prohibition of harvest. These actions would fully achieve the 
objectives of the amendment to the extent practicable, but would not 
account for environmental conditions and the responses of krill and 
other resources to changes in environmental conditions. NMFS recognizes 
that de minimis or trace amounts of krill may be retained by fishermen 
while targeting other species; such inadvertent action is not intended 
to be the subject of this prohibition.
    Four alternatives were analyzed for this action. For further 
background information on these alternatives and this action please 
refer to the Amendment 12 document entitled Management of Krill as an 
Essential Component of the California Current Ecosystem.
    NMFS received thirteen comments regarding the proposed regulations 
to implement Amendment 12. All comments were supportive of the action.


    The Administrator, Southwest Region, NMFS, determined that 
Amendment 12 to the CPS FMP is necessary for the conservation and 
management of krill and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws.
    This final rule has been determined to be significant for the 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
    this certification or the economic impact of the proposed rule. As 
a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none 
was prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: July 7, 2009.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator For Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS amends 50 CFR part 660 as 


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

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
    2. In Sec.  660.502 the definitions of ``Krill'' and ``Prohibited 
harvest species'' are added in alphabetical order to read as follows:

Sec.  660.502  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Krill means all species of euphausiids that occur in the EEZ off 
the West Coast.
* * * * *
    Prohibited harvest species means all krill species in the EEZ off 
the West Coast.
* * * * *

3. In Sec.  660.505, add paragraph (o) as follows:

Sec.  660.505  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (o) Fish for, target, harvest or land a prohibited harvest species 
in any fishery within the EEZ off the West Coast.
[FR Doc. E9-16531 Filed 7-10-09; 8:45 am]