[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 142 (Monday, July 25, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 44297-44298]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-18725]




National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 680

RIN 0648-AX47

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Allocating 

Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crab Fishery Resources

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 

Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of availability of fishery management plan amendment; 

request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Crab Rationalization 

Program (CR Program) allocates BSAI crab resources among harvesters, 

processors, and coastal communities. Amendment 30 would amend the 

Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner 

Crabs (FMP) and the CR Program to modify procedures for producing and 

submitting documents that are required under the arbitration system to 

resolve price, delivery, and other disputes between harvesters and 

processors. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives 

of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the 

FMP, and other applicable laws.

DATES: Comments on the amendment must be submitted on or before 

September 23, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional 

Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, 

Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by ``RIN 

0648-AX47'', by any one of the following methods:

     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 

comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal Web site at http://www.regulations.gov.

     Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.

     Fax: (907) 586-7557.

     Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th 

Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK.

    All comments received are a part of the public record and will 

generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change. All 

Personal Identifying Information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily 

submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit 

Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected 


    NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required 

fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic 

comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or 

Adobe portable document file (pdf) formats only.

    Copies of Amendment 30, the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR)/Initial 

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), the categorical exclusion 

prepared for this action, and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) 

prepared for the Crab Rationalization Program may be obtained from the 

NMFS Alaska Region at the address above or from the Alaska Region Web 

site at http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Forrest R. Bowers, 907-586-7240.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that each 

regional fishery management council submit any fishery management plan 

amendment it prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or 

partial approval by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary). The 

Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a fishery 

management plan amendment, immediately publish a notice in the Federal 

Register announcing that the amendment is available for public review 

and comment.

    The king and Tanner crab fisheries in the exclusive economic zone 

of the BSAI are managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the 

North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) under the Magnuson-

Stevens Act as amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 

(Pub. L. 108-199, section 801). Amendments 18 and 19 to the FMP amended 

the FMP to include the CR Program. Regulations

[[Page 44298]]

implementing the FMP, including the CR Program are located at 50 CFR 

Part 680.

    Under the CR Program, NMFS issued quota share (QS) to holders of 

License Limitation Program (LLP) licenses and crew onboard vessels. 

Each year QS yields an exclusive harvest privilege for a portion of the 

total allowable catch called individual fishing quota (IFQ). Several 

types of QS are issued; Catcher Vessel Owner (CVO) QS was issued to 

owners of catcher vessels based on their participation in CR Program 

fisheries during designated qualifying years.

    NMFS also issued processor quota share (PQS) under the CR Program. 

Each year PQS yields an exclusive privilege to process a portion of the 

IFQ. This annual exclusive processing privilege is called individual 

processor quota (IPQ). CVO QS yields Class A and Class B IFQ. Class A 

IFQ is required to be delivered to a processor with matching IPQ within 

specific geographic regions. Class B IFQ can be delivered to any 

processor in any geographic region. Ninety percent of the IFQ derived 

from CVO QS is Class A IFQ, and the remaining 10 percent is Class B 

IFQ. These requirements ensure that catch continues to be delivered to 

processors and communities with historic investment in the fisheries.

    Because harvesters holding Class A IFQ are required to deliver to 

processors holding IPQ for a specific crab fishery within a specific 

geographic region, it is possible that this requirement could adversely 

affect price and delivery negotiations among harvesters and processors. 

To address potential price and delivery disputes that may arise between 

Class A IFQ holders and IPQ holders, the Program includes an 

arbitration system to fairly and equitably resolve price, delivery 

terms, performance standards, and other disputes in the event that 

Class A IFQ and IPQ holders are unable to reach agreement on those 


    To facilitate the arbitration proceedings, the arbitration system 

establishes a series of contractual requirements that Class A IFQ and 

IPQ holders must meet. These contracts include requirements to hire: 

(1) A market analyst, who provides a pre-season market report of likely 

market conditions for each crab fishery to aid in price negotiations 

and arbitrations; (2) a formula arbitrator, who prepares a non-binding 

price formula that describes the historic division of first whole-sale 

values among harvesters and processors that can be used in price 

negotiations and arbitrations; and (3) a contract arbitrator, who 

reviews the positions of the parties during an arbitration proceeding 

and issues a binding decision based on a last-best offer form of 

arbitration. As the CR Program has progressed, it has become clear that 

the existing requirements for the timing and content of the market 

report and non-binding price formula limit the effectiveness of the 

arbitration system. The timing for the preparation of these documents 

did not allow the most recent publically available market data to be 

considered when price negotiations were conducted, thereby limiting 

their utility.

    Amendment 30, if approved, would modify four aspects of the 

arbitration system to improve its effectiveness by: (1) Allowing Class 

A IFQ and IPQ holders to establish contracts requiring the preparation 

of market reports and non-binding price formulas only if a crab fishery 

is open; (2) modifying the timeline for release of the non-binding 

price formula for the western Aleutian Islands golden king crab (WAG), 

and eastern Aleutian Islands golden king crab (EAG) fisheries; (3) 

modifying the information used and timing for release of the market 

report; and (4) clarifying the authority of the market analyst, formula 

arbitrator, and other parties involved in the administration of the 

arbitration system. The forthcoming proposed rule would implement the 

Council's recommendation under Amendment 30.

    Public comments are being solicited on proposed Amendment 30 

through the end of the comment period (see DATES). NMFS intends to 

publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register for public comment that 

would implement Amendment 30, following NMFS' evaluation under the 

Magnuson-Stevens Act procedures. Public comments on the proposed rule 

must be received by the close of the comment period on Amendment 30 to 

be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on Amendment 30. All 

comments received by the end of the comment period on Amendment 30, 

whether specifically directed to the FMP amendment or the proposed 

rule, will be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on 

Amendment 30. Comments received after the end of the public comment 

period for Amendment 30, even if received within the comment period for 

the proposed rule, will not be considered in the approval/disapproval 

decision on the amendment. To be considered, comments must be received, 

not just postmarked or otherwise transmitted, by the close of business 

on the last day of the comment period.

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

    Dated: July 20, 2011.

Emily H. Menashes,

Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 

Fisheries Service.

[FR Doc. 2011-18725 Filed 7-22-11; 8:45 am]