[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 143 (Tuesday, July 26, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 44699-44728]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-18317]



[[Page 44699]]

Vol. 76

Tuesday,

No. 143

July 26, 2011

Part III





Department of Commerce





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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration





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50 CFR Parts 679 and 680





Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod 
Allocations in the Gulf of Alaska; Amendment 83; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 76 , No. 143 / Tuesday, July 26, 2011 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 679 and 680

[Docket No. 100107012-1352-02]
RIN 0648-AY53


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod 
Allocations in the Gulf of Alaska; Amendment 83

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes a rule to implement Amendment 83 to the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). If 
approved, Amendment 83 would allocate the Western and Central GOA 
Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) limits among various gear and 
operational sectors. Sector allocations would limit the amount of 
Western and Central GOA Pacific cod that each sector is authorized to 
harvest. This action would reduce competition among sectors and support 
stability in the Pacific cod fishery. This rule would also limit access 
to the Federal Pacific cod TAC fisheries prosecuted in State waters, 
commonly known as the parallel fishery, adjacent to the Western and 
Central GOA. This action is intended to promote community participation 
and provide incentives for new entrants in the jig sector. It also 
promotes the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act, the Fishery Management Plan, and other 
applicable laws.

DATES: Written comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. Alaska 
local time (A.l.t.) September 9, 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-AY53'', by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.
     Fax: 907-586-7557, Attn: Ellen Sebastian.
     Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
     Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th 
Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK.
    Instructions: 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 (for example, name, 
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required 
fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to 
electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF 
file formats only. Electronic copies of the Environmental Assessment/
Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (EA/
RIR/IRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
proposed rule may be submitted to NMFS at the above address, e-mailed 
to [email protected], or faxed to 202-395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Seanbob Kelly, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the 
U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) under 
the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the GOA (FMP). The North 
Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared, and NMFS 
approved, the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (MSA), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 
Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 
50 CFR parts 600 and 679.
    The Council has submitted Amendment 83 for review by the Secretary 
of Commerce (Secretary), and a notice of availability of the FMP 
amendment was published in the Federal Register (76 FR 37763) on June 
28, 2011, with written comments on the FMP amendment invited through 
August 29, 2011. Comments may address the FMP amendment, the proposed 
rule, or both, but must be received by NMFS, not just postmarked or 
otherwise transmitted, by 5 p.m. Alaska local time (A.l.t.) on 
September 9, 2011, to be considered in the approval/disapproval 
decision on the FMP amendment. All comments received by that time, 
whether specifically directed to the amendment or the proposed rule, 
will be considered in the decision to approve, partially approve, or 
disapprove the proposed amendment. Comments received after the comment 
period for the amendment will not be considered in that decision.

Table of Contents

I. GOA Pacific Fishery
    A. Background
    B. Current Apportionments in the GOA Pacific Cod TAC Fisheries
    C. Current Harvest in the GOA Pacific Cod Fisheries
II. Current Management of the GOA Pacific Cod Fisheries
    A. GOA Federal Fisheries
    1. Federal Fisheries Permit (FFP)
    2. License Limitation Program (LLP)
    3. Federal Processor Permit (FPP)
    B. GOA Parallel Fisheries
    C. GOA State Waters Fisheries
III. Need for Action
    A. Rationale for Amendment 83
    B. Problem Statement
    C. Amendment 83 History
IV. Description of the Proposed Action
    A. Affected GOA Regulatory Areas
    B. Sector Designations by Area
    C. Qualifying Catch History
V. Allocation of Total Allowable Catch (TAC)
    A. Allocations to the Jig Sector
    1. Example of TAC Allocations to the Jig Sector
    B. Seasonal Sector Allocations by Area to Non-Jig Sector 
Participants
    1. Example of Allocations to Fishery Participants
    C. Reallocation of Unharvested Pacific Cod Among Sectors
VI. Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) Allocations
    A. General Description
    1. Example of PSC Calculations
VII. Pacific Cod Sideboard Limits in the GOA
VIII. Community Protection Measures
    A. Proposed Community Protection Provisions
    B. Description of Community Quota Entity (CQE) Communities
    C. Definition of Stationary Floating Processors
IX. License Requirements
    A. Participants in the Parallel Fisheries
    B. Western and Central GOA Catcher Vessel Endorsements
X. Monitoring and Enforcement
XI. Summary of Regulatory Changes
XII. Classification

I. GOA Pacific Fishery

A. Background

    Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus) is a valuable fish resource in 
the GOA and is second to walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) as the 
dominant species of the commercial groundfish catch in the GOA. As one 
of the most valuable

[[Page 44701]]

fish species in the GOA, Pacific cod is the primary species targeted by 
vessels using pot and hook-and-line gear and is an important species 
for vessels using the trawl gear. Smaller amounts of Pacific cod are 
taken by vessels using jig gear.
    Section 301(a)(1) of the MSA, also known as National Standard 1, 
states that conservation and management measures shall prevent 
overfishing while achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield 
from each fishery for the U.S. fishing industry. Each year, the Council 
recommends harvest specifications to the Secretary. These 
specifications establish an overfishing level, acceptable biological 
catch (ABC), and total allowable catch (TAC) for Pacific cod among the 
Western, Central, and Eastern GOA regulatory areas. The GOA Pacific cod 
ABC is apportioned between fisheries managed exclusively by the State 
of Alaska (State) and fisheries managed by NMFS. The State manages a 
parallel Pacific cod fishery and a Guideline Harvest Level (GHL) 
fishery in the State waters adjacent to the GOA regulatory areas. 
(State-managed Pacific cod fisheries are explained in more detail in 
section II of this preamble.)
    The State establishes a GHL for Pacific cod based on a percentage 
of the ABC for Pacific cod, and this GHL is available for harvest 
exclusively within State waters. The State GHL Pacific cod fisheries 
are divided into five separate areas (see Figure 1). The combined State 
GHL fisheries for Pacific cod are not allowed to harvest more than 25 
percent of the combined Western, Central, and Eastern GOA Pacific cod 
ABCs (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011).

Figure 1. Map of State GHL Pacific cod management areas (South Alaska 
Peninsula, Chignik, Kodiak, Cook Inlet, and Prince William Sound) and 
Federal regulatory areas (Western, Central, and Eastern) in the GOA.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP26JY11.002

    After accounting for the State GHL fisheries, the remaining ABC in 
the Central and Western GOA is managed under a Federal TAC limit. The 
Council recommends each TAC so that total harvests under the State GHL 
and Federal TAC fisheries are slightly below the ABC to ensure that the 
ABC is not exceeded, as displayed below in Table 1. The Council 
recommends TACs for the Western, Central, and Eastern GOA Pacific cod 
fisheries with the goal of providing a conservatively managed 
sustainable yield in each of these three regulatory areas. In each 
Federal regulatory area, the State GHL portion of the ABC is applicable 
only to the harvest of Pacific cod in the State waters fisheries, while 
the TAC applies to both the Federal fisheries prosecuted in the EEZ and 
State-managed parallel fisheries for GOA Pacific cod.

 Table 1--The Portion of the 2011 ABC That NMFS Allocated to the Pacific Cod Fisheries and Processor Components
        by GOA Regulatory Area. NMFS Does Not Further Allocate Pacific COD GHL to State Management Areas.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           For processing by   For processing by
         Regulatory area               State GHL         TAC fisheries        the inshore        the offshore
                                       fisheries                               component           component
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Western GOA.....................              8.75%              26.25%              23.63%               2.62%
Central GOA.....................             15.50               46.50               41.85                4.65
Eastern GOA.....................              0.75                2.25                2.03                0.22
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    While the directed fisheries for Pacific cod in Federal waters (3 
nm to 200 nm) are open, directed fisheries for Pacific cod in State 
waters (0 to 3 nm) are open concurrently. These fisheries in State 
waters, referred to as the parallel fisheries, are prosecuted under 
virtually the same rules as the Federal fisheries, with catch accrued 
against the Federal TAC. State GHL fisheries are typically open when 
Federal/parallel fisheries are closed and are prosecuted in State 
waters. Each fishery is described in more detail in section II of this 
preamble.

B. Current Apportionments in the GOA Pacific Cod TAC Fisheries

    Historically, the majority of the GOA Pacific cod TAC has been 
apportioned to the Central GOA regulatory area, with smaller 
apportionments made to the Western--and even less to the Eastern--
regulatory areas. For example, in the 2011 fishing year the Council 
recommended that 62 percent of the GOA TAC be allocated to the Central 
GOA (40,362 mt), 35 percent to the Western GOA (23,785 mt), and 3 
percent to the Eastern GOA (1,953 mt) (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011). In 
the Western and Central GOA regulatory areas, 60 percent of the annual 
TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear 
from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl gear from January 20 
through June 10; and forty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to 
the B season for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear from September 1 
through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through 
November 1 (Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(12) and 679.23(d)(3)). The Eastern GOA 
has no seasonal apportionments.
    All directed fishing allowance and incidental catch of Pacific cod 
that may occur in other groundfish fisheries that accrues before June 
10 are managed such that total harvest in the A season is no more than 
60 percent of the annual TAC. This management methodology began in 2001 
to meet the intent of the Steller sea lion protection measures (66 FR 
7276, January 22, 2001) by temporally dispersing the Pacific cod 
removals, thereby reducing the likelihood of harvest in the A season 
exceeding 60 percent of the annual TAC. The GOA Pacific cod A season 
directed fishery must close by June 10, but NMFS usually closes the 
season much earlier, when the directed fishing allowance has been 
harvested. Managers attempt to time the A season closure to leave a 
sufficient portion of the A season TAC for incidental catch of Pacific 
cod in other directed fisheries. Any A season overage or incidental 
catch between the end of the A season (June 10) and the beginning of 
the B season (September 1) counts towards the B season TAC. The B 
season ends on November 1 for trawl vessels and on December 31 for non-
trawl gear vessels, unless the directed fishing allowance is reached 
earlier, or specific limits on the amount of Pacific halibut mortality 
are reached.
    The Pacific halibut annual mortality limit is commonly known as the 
halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit. The halibut PSC limit 
ensures that the groundfish fisheries do not exceed a maximum amount of 
halibut mortality in specific groundfish fisheries, including Pacific 
cod in the GOA.
    In the GOA Federal regulatory areas, all incidentally caught 
Pacific cod must be retained during the directed Pacific cod season. 
When the directed fishing for Pacific cod is closed, incidentally 
caught Pacific cod in Federal waters (3 nm to 200 nm off Alaska), can 
only be retained up to a maximum retainable amount (MRA) established at 
20 percent (Sec.  679.20(e)(1)). The MRA limits the amount of catch for 
species not open for directed fishing that may be retained to a 
percentage of those species open for directed fishing. Vessels fishing 
in the halibut and sablefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) fisheries 
are required to retain Pacific cod up to the MRA (see Sec.  
679.27(c)(2)), unless NMFS has prohibited the retention of this species 
(see Sec.  679.7(f)(8)(i)(B)).
    Pacific cod in the GOA is further apportioned on the basis of 
processor component (inshore and offshore) and season, as specified at 
Sec.  679.20(d)(1). Under Amendment 23 to the GOA FMP (57 FR 23321, 
June 3, 1992), 90 percent of the Western, Central, and Eastern TAC is 
allocated to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore 
component and 10 percent to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing 
by the offshore component. The inshore component is composed of three 
types of processors: (1) Shoreside plants, (2) stationary floating 
processors (SFP), and (3) vessels with catcher/processor (C/P) 
endorsements less than 125 ft (45.7 m) in length overall (LOA) that 
process less than 126 mt (round weight) per week of inshore pollock and 
Pacific cod, combined. The owners and operators of SFPs and C/Ps less 
than 125 feet, including mothership vessels less than 125 ft (45.7 m) 
LOA with C/P endorsements, can elect to participate in the inshore 
component of the fishery on an annual basis. Similarly, C/P's and 
motherships less than 125 ft (45.7 m) LOA may choose to participate in 
the offshore component.
    Motherships are vessels that receive and process catch from other 
vessels. Motherships may be vessels that only process catch received 
from other vessels, or they may also operate as C/Ps. The offshore 
component includes all vessels that process groundfish harvested in the 
GOA and that are not included in the inshore component. For example, 
all motherships, including those less than 125 ft (45.7 m) LOA, not 
endorsed as a C/P are ineligible for an inshore processing endorsement 
on their Federal fishing permit and are, by default, part of the 
offshore component.

C. Current Harvest in the GOA Pacific Cod Fishery

    During some recent years, the annual GOA Pacific cod TACs allocated 
to the offshore sector have not been fully harvested. Inshore TACs 
typically have been fully harvested in the Central GOA. Harvests in the 
Western GOA have increased in recent years from only 68 percent of the 
inshore TACs harvested in 2006, to 99 percent and 101 percent of the 
inshore TAC harvested in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Similarly, the 
Eastern GOA regulatory area experienced recent increases in harvest of 
Pacific cod from 13 percent of the TAC in 2008 to 50 percent of the TAC 
in 2010. Beginning in 2004, a substantial proportion of the offshore 
TACs in each regulatory area has not been harvested. Inseason 
management has opened the offshore TACs concurrently with the inshore 
TACs, but has closed the offshore TACs when the Bering Sea and Aleutian 
Islands Management Area (BSAI) Pacific cod A season fisheries ended to 
prevent overharvest of the A season TAC by the BSAI C/P fleet. In 2003, 
the Western GOA offshore A season was open to the BSAI C/P fleet, and 
the Western GOA offshore A season TAC was overharvested (220 percent). 
As a result, the 2003 Western GOA offshore B season was not opened.
    The following summary of Pacific cod harvests in the GOA, by 
sector, combines harvest data from State and Federal waters. Vessels 
using trawl gear harvested the largest share of the catch in every year 
from 1991 through 2002, except in 2000. Trawl landings of Pacific cod 
peaked in 1990 and 1991, at nearly 60,000 mt per year, and declined to 
less than 20,000 mt in recent years. Since 1990, hook-and-line harvests 
have fluctuated between 6,000 mt and 15,000 mt per year. Vessels using 
pot gear began to make significant landings in the early 1990s. Pot and 
jig landings have increased substantially since 1997 when the State 
implemented a Pacific cod GHL fishery, which generally

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allows the use of only pot and jig gear. In each year since 2003, 
vessels using pot gear harvested the largest single-gear share of the 
catch. Most of the Pacific cod harvested by jig vessels from 1995 
through 2000 occurred prior to June 10 (93 percent to 94 percent); 
however, these portions declined to 25 percent in the Western GOA and 
69 percent in the Central GOA during recent years.
    Total harvests of Pacific cod by all sectors peaked in 1999 at 
nearly 82,000 mt, and were as low as 48,000 mt in 2005 and 2006. Total 
Federal catch as a percentage of the Federal TAC has increased in 
recent years; however, the portion harvested generally declined in the 
years following the implementation of regulations to protect Steller 
sea lions in 2001.

II. Current Management of the GOA Pacific Cod Fisheries

A. GOA Federal Fisheries

    To meet the management objectives for GOA Pacific cod fisheries and 
the harvest targets set during the harvest specification process 
pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a), NMFS requires vessel operators fishing in 
Federal waters to comply with various restrictions, including fishery 
time and area closures and halibut PSC limits. In addition, groundfish 
harvests by several other groups of vessels have limits, known as 
sideboards, placed on their catches of Pacific cod in Federal waters 
and in State waters during the State parallel fisheries in the GOA. 
Groups with sideboards include: (1) Catcher vessels (CVs) that 
qualified under the American Fisheries Act (AFA); (2) crab vessels that 
received crab quota share (QS) under the Crab Rationalization Program 
(70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005) and are not otherwise subject to sideboard 
limitations under the AFA; and (3) vessels that are subject of the 
Amendment 80 program (72 FR 52668; September 14, 2007). Similarly, 
trawl CVs that also participate in the Rockfish program are allocated 
2.09 percent of the Central GOA regulatory area Pacific cod TAC to 
support incidental catch of Pacific cod by cooperatives in the rockfish 
fisheries.
    Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing 
sideboard limits on AFA C/Ps and CVs in the GOA. The sideboard limits 
are necessary to protect the interest of fishermen and processors who 
do not directly benefit through the AFA from those fishermen and 
processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges 
under the AFA. AFA CVs that qualify under Sec.  679.64(b)(2)(ii) are 
exempt from GOA sideboard limits. Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA 
CVs operating in the GOA are calculated based on their traditional 
harvest levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. 
Sideboard limits also restrict vessels participating in the BSAI snow 
crab fishery from using the increased flexibility provided by the Crab 
Rationalization Program (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005) from expanding 
their level of participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Non-AFA 
crab vessels that fished snow crab from 1996-2000 and any vessels 
fishing under the authority of groundfish licenses derived from those 
vessels are restricted to their collective historical landings in most 
GOA groundfish fisheries, as described in 50 CFR 680.22(d) and (e). 
Some affected vessels also are subject to another type of sideboard; 
these vessels are restricted from participating in the directed fishery 
for Pacific cod in the GOA, as described at Sec.  680.22(a)(2). 
Targeted and incidental catch of sideboard species made by both non-
exempt AFA and non-AFA crab vessels are deducted from their respected 
sideboard limits. NMFS calculates and publishes sideboard limits 
annually as part of the harvest specifications process.
    To monitor compliance with catch limits, PSC limits, and sideboard 
regulations, NMFS requires various permits that authorize or limit 
access to the groundfish fisheries, such as a Federal fisheries permit 
(FFP), license limitation program (LLP) license, and Federal processor 
permit (FPP).
1. Federal Fisheries Permit (FFP)
    All vessels participating in the GOA Pacific cod fishery, including 
motherships operating in the EEZ of the GOA, are required to have an 
FFP onboard the vessel at all times (see Sec.  679.4(b)(9)). An FFP 
authorizes a vessel owner to deploy a vessel to conduct operations in 
the GOA or BSAI under the following categories: catcher vessel, 
catcher/processor, mothership, tender vessel, or support vessel. A 
vessel may not be operated in a category other than the ones specified 
on the FFP. Owners and operators of harvesting vessels that 
participated in the GOA Pacific cod fisheries, except vessels using jig 
gear, are required to have an FFP endorsement for the species and 
regulatory area(s) in which the fishery is prosecuted. However, to 
participate in the offshore component of the GOA Pacific cod fishery as 
a mothership, only a mothership and area endorsement are required.
    An FFP can include many endorsements, such as type of gear (e.g. 
pot, hook-and-line, and trawl), vessel operation category, and 
regulatory area (e.g., GOA) in which a permitted vessel is eligible to 
fish, and in some fisheries a species endorsement. For example, to 
harvest Pacific cod in the GOA Federal fisheries, the harvesting vessel 
must be designated on an FFP with endorsements that indicate the gear 
type used to prosecute the fishery. A GOA inshore processing 
endorsement is available for C/Ps under 125 feet (45.7 m.) LOA that 
wish to process GOA inshore Pacific cod; vessels exclusively endorsed 
as motherships that do not harvest groundfish in the GOA are not 
eligible to participate in the inshore component of the GOA Pacific cod 
fishery under the authority of an FFP.
    The operators of harvesting vessels that possess an FFP are 
required to comply with NMFS observer coverage requirements (Sec.  
679.50(a)). In addition, Federally permitted vessels participating in a 
pollock or Pacific cod fishery in the GOA are required to have onboard 
a transmitting vessel monitoring system (VMS), as described at Sec.  
679.28(f)(6). A VMS consists of a NMFS-approved transmitter that 
automatically determines a vessel's position and transmits that 
information to NMFS. While Pacific cod directed fisheries are open, all 
harvesting vessels with an FFP endorsed with a hook and line, pot, or 
trawl Pacific cod endorsement are required to have an operational VMS, 
regardless of where the vessel is fishing at the time or what the 
vessel is targeting, as described at Sec.  679.28(f)(6). Thus, a VMS is 
required of all vessels with an FFP endorsed with a Pacific cod hook 
and line, pot, or trawl gear while fishing in the adjacent State waters 
(0 to 3 nm). However, vessels fishing exclusively in State waters are 
not required to be designated on an FFP, and the operator of such a 
vessel is not subject to NMFS observer, VMS, or recordkeeping and 
reporting requirements unless specified by the State.
    FFPs are issued on a 3-year cycle. Each permit is in effect from 
the date of issuance through the end of the 3-year cycle. A vessel 
operator with an FFP can surrender the permit at any time and have the 
FFP reissued any number of times within the 3-year cycle. This 
flexibility is intended to provide a vessel owner with opportunities to 
participate in State waters fisheries, for which no FFP is required, 
without having to comply with the Federal requirements for operators of 
harvesting vessels designated on an FFP.
    While any vessel owner can apply for an FFP with any combination of 
mothership, C/P, CV, area, gear, or

[[Page 44704]]

species endorsements, an FFP with a specific set of endorsements, by 
itself, does not necessarily authorize the operator or the vessel to 
participate in the Pacific cod fishery in the GOA. As in most fisheries 
in Federal waters, an LLP license also is required to participate in 
the GOA Pacific cod fishery.
2. License Limitation Program (LLP)
    Prior to the establishment of the current LLP requirement, several 
management measures limited participation in the Federal GOA Pacific 
cod fisheries. Regulations restricting new vessels from entry into the 
groundfish fisheries were established in 1995 (60 FR 40763, August 10, 
1995). Also, the AFA, signed into law on October 21, 1998 (Pub. L. 105-
277), prohibited C/Ps that qualified under the AFA (AFA C/Ps) from 
fishing in the GOA. The current LLP requirements were implemented under 
Amendment 41 to the FMP (63 FR 52642, October 1, 1998). This action 
further limited entry into most fisheries prosecuted in Federal waters, 
and established a 52,600 nm trawl closure in Eastern GOA regulatory 
area.
    Effective since 2000, a groundfish LLP license authorizes a vessel 
to be used in a directed fishery for groundfish. Vessel operators 
fishing for groundfish must have an LLP license onboard at all times 
the vessel is engaged in fishing activities. LLP licenses are issued by 
NMFS to qualified persons, and an LLP license authorizes a license 
holder to deploy a vessel to conduct direct fishing for groundfish. In 
the GOA Pacific cod fisheries, several endorsements are required to be 
specified on an LLP license, such as vessel operation type, area, gear 
designation, and maximum length overall (MLOA). Several exemptions to 
the LLP requirement are listed at Sec.  679.4(k)(2), including an 
exemption for specific jig vessels less than or equal to 60 feet (18.3 
m) LOA.
    Unlike the FFP, the endorsements on an LLP license are not 
generally severable from the license. An LLP license, with its 
associated endorsements, can be reassigned to a different vessel only 
once per year. In general, a vessel is authorized to only use gear 
consistent with the gear designation on the LLP. However, like FFPs, 
vessels fishing in the parallel fisheries are not required to be 
designated on an LLP license because these fisheries occur only in 
State waters.
3. Federal Processor Permit (FPP)
    Federal processor permits (FPPs) may be issued for shoreside 
processors and stationary floating processors (SFPs). SFPs are vessels 
of the United States operating as processors in the Alaska State waters 
that remain anchored or otherwise remain stationary in a single 
geographic location while receiving or processing groundfish harvested 
in the GOA or BSAI. An FPP is required for shoreside processors and 
SFPs that receive and/or process groundfish harvested from Federal 
waters or from any Federally-permitted vessels. FPPs are non-
transferable, 3-year permits issued to owners on request and without 
charge. These permits are authorized at Sec.  679.4(f).
    Owners of SFPs may apply for a GOA inshore processing endorsement 
on their FPP. This endorsement is required to process GOA inshore 
Pacific cod and pollock. SFPs that hold an inshore processing 
endorsement are prohibited from processing GOA Pacific cod in more than 
one single geographic location in the GOA during a fishing year. 
Although FPPs can be surrendered at anytime during a fishing year, a 
GOA inshore processing endorsement cannot be rescinded for the duration 
of a fishing year. It may be changed for the next fishing year by 
submitting an application for permit amendment prior to the beginning 
of that fishing year. Vessels holding the GOA inshore processing 
endorsement face additional operating restrictions described at Sec.  
679.7. During any calendar year, an FPP permit holder operating in the 
GOA can only operate as part of the ``inshore component in the GOA,'' 
as defined at Sec.  679.2. All vessels participating in the GOA 
groundfish fisheries are restricted from operating in both the 
``offshore component in the GOA'' and the ``inshore component in the 
GOA'' during the same calendar year, as prohibited at Sec.  
679.7(a)(7)(iv) and (v). For example, during a calendar year an owner 
of an FFP issued a GOA inshore processing endorsement on their FPP 
cannot also hold an FFP that authorizes the license holder to conduct 
operations in the GOA as a catcher vessel, catcher/processor, 
mothership, tender vessel, or support vessel for groundfish. Similarly 
an FFP license holder with a GOA catcher/processor endorsement cannot 
be used as a SFP in the ``inshore component of the GOA'' unless it 
first surrenders its FFP and is issued an FPP that meets the permitting 
requirements to operate at as SFP at a single geographic location in 
the GOA.

B. GOA Parallel Fisheries

    During the Federal Pacific cod TAC fisheries, the State creates a 
parallel Pacific cod fishing season by generally adopting NMFS 
management actions in State waters; however, trawl gear is generally 
not allowed within State waters of the GOA. The State has management 
authority for groundfish resources within State waters, and the 
Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) opens 
parallel fisheries through emergency order under the Parallel 
Groundfish Fishery Emergency Order Authority at 5 AAC 28.086. These 
emergency orders establish parallel fishing seasons that allow vessels 
to fish for groundfish, including Pacific cod, within State waters with 
the same season as the Federal seasons. In addition, the Commissioner 
is authorized to open or close the fisheries under emergency order to 
adapt to unanticipated openings or closures of the Federal fisheries. 
There are no limits on the proportion of the Pacific cod TAC that may 
be harvested in State waters.

C. GOA State Waters Fisheries

    In 1997, the State began managing Pacific cod fisheries inside of 3 
nm (referred to as the State waters fisheries or State GHL fisheries) 
that are generally open when the Federal and parallel fisheries are 
closed. The State waters Pacific cod seasons are managed under five 
Pacific cod management plans under the authority of State regulation. 
In the Prince William Sound (PWS) (5 AAC 28.267), the Kodiak (5 AAC 
28.467) and the South Alaska Peninsula (5 AAC 28.577) management areas, 
the State waters Pacific cod fisheries open seven days after the 
Federal inshore A season for the respective regulatory area closes. The 
Cook Inlet Pacific cod fishery is authorized under 5 AAC 28.367 to open 
24 hours after the Central GOA inshore A season closes, and the opening 
date for the Pacific cod fishery in the Chignik Area is set in 
regulation as March 15 (5 AAC 28.537). The State waters fisheries close 
when the GHL is harvested, or when the Commissioner closes the fishery 
under emergency order, on December 31, or whichever occurs later. 
Closing of the State waters fisheries typically occurs by August 31 to 
coincide with the opening of the B season parallel/Federal fishing 
season, as described in more detail in section 2.1.2 of the EA/RIR/IRFA 
for this action (see ADDRESSES).
    The GOA Pacific cod State waters fisheries are allocated a 
specified portion of the Federal ABC. State waters fisheries' portions 
are managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) toward a 
GHL, which limits catch in the fishery in a manner similar to 
management of the Federal TAC. If a GHL is fully harvested, the GHL can 
be increased on an annual basis up to 25

[[Page 44705]]

percent of the Pacific cod ABC in each GOA regulatory area, the maximum 
level permitted by State regulation. In 1997, 15 percent of the Pacific 
cod ABC in each of the three GOA regulatory areas was allocated among 
the State waters fisheries. Since then, allocations of Pacific cod GHL 
in the State waters fisheries have increased to 25 percent of the ABCs 
in each regulatory area. Allocations of GHL to the Eastern GOA have 
fluctuated in recent years. In 2004, the Eastern GOA GHL was lowered to 
10 percent of the ABC because that allocation had not been fully 
utilized by the fishery. The portion of the ABC allocated to the State 
waters fishery was increased to 15 percent in 2010, and 25 percent in 
2011, in response to increased fishing effort and catch in the State 
waters fishery in the Eastern GOA.
    State waters fisheries have gear and vessel-length restrictions. 
The GOA State waters Pacific cod fisheries are open to only pot and jig 
gear in all GOA State management areas except in Prince William Sound, 
which has allowed longline gear since 2009. In several areas, vessel 
size restrictions limit harvests by vessels greater than 58 ft (17.7 m) 
LOA or exclude those vessels from participating in the fisheries. Of 
the total Central GOA ABC, the State waters fisheries allocate 16.94 
percent to the pot sector and 8.06 percent to the jig sector. Although 
there is no allocation specified in regulation to the South Alaska 
Peninsula area jig fleet, pot gear is allocated 85% of the GHL, which 
represents 21.25 percent of the Western GOA ABC. Allocations of GHL to 
pot vessels have generally been fully harvested in all State management 
areas except Prince William Sound from 1997 through 2009. Jig harvests 
were relatively high during 2003 through 2005 and again in 2009, but 
declined substantially in 2006 through 2008. A combination of poor 
weather conditions, difficulty finding fish in State waters, and high 
operating costs contributed to low levels of jig effort in those years. 
Most unharvested State-waters GHL was unharvested jig GHL resulting in 
a catch that was substantially below the GHL in all four Western and 
Central GOA State management areas in 2006 and 2007; and in Kodiak and 
Cook Inlet during 2008. In 2009, jig vessels in the Kodiak Management 
Area harvested the entire jig GHL, and more than 90 percent of the 
overall GHL was harvested in each GOA State management area, as 
described in more detail in section 2.1.2 of the EA/RIR/IRFA for this 
action. Generally, unharvested GHL may be rolled over to other gear 
types according to State regulatory management plans.
    Many participants in the State waters Pacific cod fisheries also 
participate in the parallel/Federal Pacific cod fisheries. During 1997 
through 2008, an average of 75 percent of Central GOA State waters pot 
catch and 93 percent of Western GOA State waters pot catch was 
harvested by vessels that also participated in the GOA Pacific cod 
parallel/Federal fishery (using any gear type) in a particular year. 
The majority (85 percent to 93 percent) of State waters pot catch is 
harvested by vessels that hold LLP licenses and also have access to the 
Federal waters fishery. There is less overlap between participants in 
the State waters jig fishery and the parallel/Federal waters Pacific 
cod fishery. The majority of vessels that participate in the State 
waters jig fishery do not participate in the parallel/Federal waters 
Pacific cod fishery. During 1997 through 2008, an average of only 43 
percent of Central GOA State waters jig catch and 25 percent of Western 
GOA State waters jig catch was harvested by vessels that also 
participated in the GOA parallel/Federal fishery in a particular year.
    Owners of some vessels that fish for Pacific cod in the Federal 
waters have surrendered their FFP licenses before fishing in the 
parallel waters or in the non-parallel-State waters Pacific cod fishery 
to avoid NMFS observer, VMS, and recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements, only to have the permits reissued for the opening of the 
Federal waters fishery. Surrendering or amending an FFP may degrade the 
quality of information available to manage the Pacific cod fishery.

III. Need for Action

A. Rationale for Amendment 83

    Competition among participants in the Western and Central GOA 
Pacific cod fisheries has intensified in recent years. Because the TACs 
are not divided among gear or operation types, there is a derby-style 
race for fish and competition among the various gear types for shares 
of the TACs. The proposed action would divide the Western and Central 
GOA Pacific cod TACs among the various gear and operation types, based 
primarily on historical dependency and use by each sector, while also 
considering the needs of fishing communities. This amendment is 
intended to enhance stability in the fishery by enabling operators 
within each sector to plan harvesting or processing activity during a 
fishing year, reduce competition among sectors, and preserve the 
historical division of catch among sectors, while providing 
opportunities for new entrants in these fisheries. .
    NMFS and the Council recognize that participants with significant 
long-term investments and extensive catch histories are highly 
dependent on the GOA Pacific cod fisheries and need stability in the 
form of sector allocations. If Amendment 83 is approved, it would 
supersede the inshore/offshore allocations and establish sector 
allocations for each gear and operation type in the Western and Central 
GOA Pacific cod fisheries, based primarily on historical catches, as 
well as conservation, catch monitoring, and social objectives, 
including considerations for small boat sectors and coastal communities 
traditionally participating in the inshore Pacific cod processing 
sector.

B. Problem Statement

    To address these issues, the Council adopted a problem statement 
that is summarized below. The complete text can be found in section 
1.1.2 of the EA/RIR/IRFA for this action (see ADDRESSES).

    The limited access derby-style management of the Western GOA and 
Central GOA Pacific cod fisheries has led to competition among the 
various gear types (trawl, hook-and-line, pot and jig) and operation 
types (catcher processor and catcher vessel) for shares of the total 
allowable catch (TAC). Competition for the GOA Pacific cod resource 
has increased for a variety of reasons, including increased market 
value of cod products, rationalization of other fisheries in the 
BSAI and GOA, increased participation by fishermen displaced from 
other fisheries, reduced Federal TACs due to the State waters cod 
fishery, and Steller sea lion mitigation measures including the A/B 
seasonal split of the GOA Pacific cod TACs. The competition among 
sectors in the fishery may contribute to higher rates of bycatch, 
discards, and out-of-season incidental catch of Pacific cod.
    Participants in the fisheries who have made long-term 
investments and are dependent on the fisheries face uncertainty as a 
result of the competition for catch shares among sectors. To reduce 
uncertainty and contribute to stability across the sectors, and to 
promote sustainable fishing practices and facilitate management 
measures, the Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs should be 
divided among the sectors. Allocations to each sector would be based 
primarily on qualifying catch history, but may be adjusted to 
address conservation, catch monitoring, and social objectives, 
including considerations for small boat sectors and coastal 
communities. Because harvest sector allocations would supersede the 
inshore/offshore processing sector allocations for Pacific cod by 
creating harvest limits, the Council may consider regulatory changes 
for offshore and inshore floating processors in

[[Page 44706]]

order to sustain the participation of fishing communities.

    In addition, the Council recognized that the timing of the Pacific 
cod A and B seasons may have limited the participation of jig vessels 
in the parallel and Federal fisheries of the GOA. The State waters jig 
allocation has gone uncaught in some years, potentially due to the lack 
of availability of Pacific cod inside three miles. A non-historical 
Federal catch award, together with the provision of access in Federal 
waters for the State Pacific cod jig allocations, offers entry-level 
opportunities for the jig sector.
    Currently, there are no limits on entry into the parallel waters 
groundfish fisheries, and no limits on the proportion of the GOA 
Pacific cod TAC that may be harvested in parallel waters. There is 
concern that participation in the GOA Pacific cod parallel waters 
fishery by vessels that do not hold LLP licenses may increase. The 
Council, in consideration of options and recommendations for the 
parallel fishery, will need to balance the objectives of providing 
stability to the long term participants in the sectors, while 
recognizing that new entrants who do not hold Federal permits or 
licenses may participate in the parallel fishery.

C. Amendment 83 Background

    In 1999, the Council began developing a package of measures to 
rationalize the GOA groundfish fisheries, which included options to 
develop catch share management for CV and C/Ps in the Pacific cod 
fisheries. In April 2003, the Council defined a set of preliminary 
alternatives. From 2003 through 2006, the Council worked to develop and 
refine these alternatives. However, in December 2006, the Council 
decided to delay further consideration of the comprehensive 
rationalization program and instead, proceed with the more discrete 
issue of allocating the Pacific cod resource to various gear sectors. 
Simultaneously, the Council recommended limiting future entry to the 
GOA groundfish fisheries by extinguishing latent LLP groundfish 
licenses.
    The Council also has taken final action on separate amendment 
packages to revise the LLP. In April 2008, the Council took final 
action to extinguish area endorsements on latent GOA and BSAI trawl LLP 
licenses. The final rule for that action was published August 14, 2009 
(74 FR 41080). Subsequently, in April 2009, the Council recommended 
Amendment 86 to the FMP. That amendment, also known as the GOA fixed 
gear recency action, would add non-severable, gear-specific Pacific cod 
endorsements to fixed gear licenses that qualify under the landings 
thresholds, and is intended to limit entry into the directed Pacific 
cod fisheries in the Federal waters of the Western and Central GOA. The 
notice of availability for Amendment 86 action was published July 2, 
2010 (75 FR 38452), the proposed rule was published July 23, 2010 (75 
FR 43118), and the final rule was published on March 22, 2011. It 
became effective on April 21, 2011 (76 FR 15826).
    The Council reviewed a preliminary EA/RIR/IRFA of Amendment 83 at 
its September 2007 meeting, and reviewed an initial draft EA/RIR/IRFAs 
in June 2008, December 2008, and October 2009. At its October 2009 
meeting, the Council released the analysis for public review, and the 
Council took final action on GOA Amendment 83, this proposed action, at 
the December 2009 meeting. If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, 
Amendment 83 would modify the following provisions in the FMP: the 
executive summary; section 3.2.6, Management Measures for the GOA 
Groundfish Fisheries; section 3.3.1 License Limitation Program; and 
section 4.1.2.2, Pacific cod. Amendment 83 sector allocations cannot be 
implemented mid-year; therefore, the final rule implementing Amendment 
83, if approved, would be effective the following January 1st. Thus, 
the earliest effective date for the rule implementing Amendment 83 
would be January 1, 2012.

IV. Description of the Proposed Action

A. Affected GOA Regulatory Areas

    If approved, this action would affect the GOA management area; it 
is not intended to directly affect fishing behavior outside of the GOA 
or in the BSAI management area. The proposed sector allocations would 
divide the Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs among the various 
gear and operation types, based primarily on the historical 
distribution of catch. Currently, the Western and Central GOA A season 
TACs are fully utilized, and vessels race to fully harvest the TAC. The 
GOA Pacific cod B season TACs have not been fully harvested in recent 
years, particularly in the Western GOA, due in part to reaching the 
halibut PSC limits; therefore, this proposed action would also further 
allocate PSC limits throughout the GOA. Sector allocations in the 
Western and Central GOA and GOA-wide PSC limit apportionments are 
expected to reduce competition among sectors in the A season and B 
season, but may not reduce competition among vessels within each 
sector, nor slow down the fisheries' prosecution.
    In recent years, only a small proportion of the Eastern GOA TAC has 
been harvested, although effort and catch has increased in recent 
years. From 2000 through 2008, the Pacific cod harvest in the Eastern 
GOA ranged from 0.4 percent to 11.8 percent of the Eastern GOA TAC, and 
was 39.3 percent and 49.8 percent of the Eastern GOA TAC in 2009 and 
2010, respectively. The potential exists that the lack of any sector 
allocations in the Eastern GOA would provide an incentive for increased 
effort in that fishery. However, the Council did not perceive a need 
for such an action due, in part, to the differences in the prosecution 
of the Pacific cod fisheries in the Eastern regulatory area, such as 
the extensive trawl closures effectively prohibiting trawl fishing in 
the Southeast Outside district of the Eastern regulatory area. As a 
result, the Council recommended that the Eastern GOA Pacific cod TAC 
not be allocated among sectors by this action.
    Two elements of this proposed rule would apply to the entire GOA, 
including the Western, Central, and Eastern GOA regulatory areas. 
First, the hook-and-line CV and C/P halibut PSC limits would apply to 
the entire GOA, as described in more detail in section VI of this 
preamble. Halibut bycatch by hook-and-line vessels operating in the 
Western, Central, and Eastern GOA would accrue against these PSC 
limits. Second, NMFS is proposing new FFP permitting requirements that 
would restrict the reissue of, or amendments to, FFPs by permit holders 
endorsed by gear and operation type to participate in all Federal or 
parallel Pacific cod fisheries throughout the Western, Central, and 
Eastern GOA, as described in more detail in section IX of this 
preamble.

B. Sector Designations by Area

    The sectors designated by the Council to receive allocations of 
Pacific cod are identified in Tables 2a and 2b of this preamble and are 
identical in the Western and Central GOA except for hook-and-line CV 
sectors. In both areas the proposed sectors include jig, hook-and-line 
C/P, pot CV and C/P combined, trawl C/P, trawl CV, and hook-and-line 
CV; however, in the Central GOA, the hook-and-line CV sector would be 
further divided by vessel length. In the Central GOA hook-and-line CVs 
less than 50 ft (15.2 m) LOA (<50 ft (15.2 m) LOA) are in one sector 
and hook-and-line CVs greater than or equal to 50 ft (15.2 m) 
(=50 ft (15.2 m)) are in another sector. Historically, the 
majority of catch

[[Page 44707]]

by hook-and-line CVs has been made by vessels <50 ft (15.2 m) LOA, but 
in recent years, there has been a substantial increase in effort by 
hook-and-line CVs that are between 50 ft (15.2 m) and 60 ft (18.3 m) 
LOA. Dividing this sector at 50 ft (15.2 m) LOA protects smaller boats 
from an influx of effort by vessels =50 ft (15.2 m) LOA. The 
Council recognized that in the Central GOA the increased competition 
appears to result in safety at sea concerns, as smaller boats compete 
with larger vessels. However, by establishing a CV hook-and-line split, 
vessels =50 ft (15.2 m) LOA that are long-time participants 
in the fishery would share an allocation with these more recent 
entrants. A similar CV sector split was not recommended for the Western 
GOA. The Western GOA has not seen a similar increase in effort by CVs 
>=50 ft (15.2 m) LOA. Moreover, the Western GOA hook-and-line CV sector 
has historically harvested a small percentage of the TAC, and if the 
TAC was further apportioned by vessel length, this sector's allocation 
would not support a directed fishery.
    Under this action, the pot CV and pot C/P sectors would be combined 
in the Western and Central GOA because catch by pot C/Ps has been 
relatively small, and if apportioned individually, Pacific cod 
allocations for pot C/Ps would be extremely low. NMFS' experience with 
similar sector allocations has shown that small allocations can be 
difficult to manage, depending on the level of participation and effort 
in the sector. Moreover, most vessels that participated as pot C/Ps in 
the GOA Pacific cod fishery in recent years also have fishing history 
as pot CVs, and would contribute catch history to both the pot C/P and 
CV allocations. Therefore, the Council recommended that the pot C/P and 
CV sectors receive a combined allocation in each area.

C. Qualifying Catch History

    For Amendment 83 the Council defined each qualifying catch history 
as all retained catch of Pacific cod from both the Federal and parallel 
waters fisheries by season. In calculating each sector's directed and 
incidental catch histories for this action, the Council had several 
data sources to choose from, including ADF&G Fish Tickets (Fish 
Tickets) and weekly production reports. Fish Tickets are issued by 
processors to CVs when a CV delivers fish for processing. Information 
on the Fish Ticket indicates the vessel that delivered the fish and the 
weight of that fish. Weekly Production Reports (WPRs) are submitted to 
NMFS by processors, including C/Ps, of the amounts of various fish 
products for that processor for the week listed.
    Two accounting systems have been used to compile catch histories in 
the GOA Pacific cod fishery. The Blend database was used as NMFS' 
accounting system from 1995 through 2002, and is composed of WPRs and 
observer data. Since 2003, NMFS has relied on the Catch Accounting 
database, which is composed of WPRs, Fish Tickets, and observer data. 
NMFS manages the Pacific cod fishery inseason with catch information 
collected from these databases. NMFS inseason management requires 
prompt reporting of catch to successfully manage the fisheries to stay 
within the established TACs and PSC limits. Fish Ticket information 
prior to 2008 was not available quickly enough from ADF&G for NMFS' 
inseason management purposes because complete Fish Ticket data from the 
State can be submitted to NMFS up to three months into the following 
year. In addition, data from non-electronic WPRs and Fish Tickets takes 
time to compile and process. For these reasons, NMFS created an 
alternative database system for tracking catch that includes an 
electronic reporting system (eLandings) for commercial fishery landings 
and production used by NMFS and the State.
    Since 2007, the NMFS Catch Accounting database and the ADF&G Fish 
Ticket Database have generally been in close agreement for retained 
catch estimates. The largest differences in the catch histories 
reported in the ADF&G Fish Ticket Database and those reported in the 
Blend and Catch Accounting databases are between the jig CV datasets, 
as reported in section 2.2.2 and Appendix B of the EA/RIR/IRFA for this 
action (see ADDRESSES). However, the proposed allocation to the jig 
sector is not set at historic catch but is initially set higher to 
promote new entrants to the fishery. Under this proposed action, the 
jig sector's allocation is expected to vary from season to season based 
on the performance of that sector in the fishery. The proposed jig 
sector allocations would be deducted from the Federal TAC before other 
sector allocations are calculated. Unused allocations to the jig sector 
would be rolled over to other Federal sectors beginning with 
participants in the CV sector. Allocations to the jig sector are 
discussed in more detail in part A of section V of this preamble.
    For C/Ps, the Council chose to use the NMFS Blend and Catch 
Accounting databases for purposes of developing the catch histories 
used in this action rather than WPRs. The Catch Accounting database 
relies on WPRs for C/Ps with 30 percent observer coverage and observer 
data for vessels with 100 percent observer coverage. Discrepancies 
between WPRs and the Blend and Catch Accounting databases are expected 
to be the result of underreporting on WPRs compared to observer data, 
the use of product recovery rates to back-calculate round weights for 
catch recorded on WPRs, and the increased use of observer estimates for 
C/Ps in Blend and Catch Accounting data. The EA/RIR/IRFA for this 
action describes these discrepancies in more detail in Appendix B (see 
ADDRESSES).
    The Council elected to use the Blend and Catch Accounting databases 
to calculate qualifying catch history for C/Ps based on recent 
experience with similar actions. In other previous actions, most 
notably BSAI Amendments 80 and 85, the Council used the data from Fish 
Tickets for CVs and WPRs for C/Ps to calculate qualifying catch 
history. One reason for selecting this alternate approach is because 
certain product types, such as fishmeal, can be excluded from catch 
estimates. The inclusion of fishmeal was an issue in Amendments 80 and 
85 because smaller vessels generally lack the capacity to process meal 
and catch histories might underestimate actual catch. For this proposed 
action, the Council decided to not exclude fishmeal from the definition 
of qualifying catch, even though WPRs in the GOA indicated that no C/Ps 
produced fishmeal from Pacific cod during the 1995 through 2006 fishing 
seasons.
    For CVs, the Council decided to calculate the catch histories used 
in this action based on Fish Tickets rather than the Blend and Catch 
Accounting databases. Fish Tickets are a more comprehensive record of 
catch than the Blend database for CVs. As a result, catch estimates 
based on Fish Tickets are generally higher than those from the Blend 
database, which are based on WPRs and observer data. Catch Accounting 
estimates for CVs are based on Fish Tickets for vessels that deliver 
shoreside and use eLandings. The retained catch estimates are very 
similar between the Catch Accounting database and the ADF&G Fish Ticket 
Database; however, the catch history requested by the Council for this 
action extended back further than the advent of the Catch Accounting 
database in 2003. Therefore, the Council recommended using the catch 
history provided by Fish Tickets to provide the most comprehensive data 
for CVs.
    In the Western GOA, the four options for calculating catch history 
included

[[Page 44708]]

one option consisting of all retained catch during 1995 through 2005; 
see Table 2a of this preamble. This period includes six years of catch 
history prior to implementation of the Steller sea lion protection 
measures in 2001. The Steller sea lion measures resulted in a shift of 
catch from trawl gear to pot gear. By including the earlier time 
period, this action accounts for the catch history of the trawl sector 
prior to this shift and generally favors trawl vessels. In the Central 
GOA the catch histories include more recent years, 2002 through 2008, 
and generally favor the pot CV sector and to a lesser extent the hook-
and-line sectors. The options in the Central GOA do not include 
retained catch from 1995 through 2000 (see Table 2b of this preamble) 
because the reduction in trawl catch concurrent with implementation of 
the Steller sea lion protection measures in the Central GOA was less 
than in the Western GOA.

              Table 2a--Average Percent of the Total Catch of Pacific Cod Over Various Years in the Western GOA by Each Sector, Except Jig
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Hook-and-line   Hook-and-line
                       Western GOA                            C/P (%)         CV (%)        Pot C/P (%)     Pot CV (%)     Trawl C/P (%)   Trawl CV (%)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1995-2005, best 7 years *...............................            19.8             0.5             2.2            28.0             2.5            46.9
2000-2006, best 5 years.................................            21.8             0.6             2.3            40.7             2.6            32.0
2002-2007, best 5 years.................................            22.7             1.2             1.6            46.0             2.4            26.1
2002-2008, best 5 years.................................            21.8             1.7             1.5            44.5             2.4            28.1
Each sector's best option...............................            18.6             1.4             1.9            37.6             2.1            38.4
    Average of all options..............................            21.5             1.0             1.9            39.8             2.5            33.3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Contains rounding errors 0.1%
 


              Table 2b--Average Percent of the Total Catch of Pacific Cod Over Various Years in the Central GOA by Each Sector, Except Jig
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Hook-and-line   Hook-and-line   Hook-and-line
               Central GOA                    C/P (%)       CV >=50 (%)     CV <50 (%)      Pot C/P (%)     Pot CV (%)     Trawl C/P (%)   Trawl CV (%)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2000-2006, best 5 years *...............             4.2            14.6             6.2             1.0            25.3             4.4            44.2
2000-2006, best 3 years *...............             4.7            14.0             5.6             1.4            28.0             4.4            42.0
2002-2007, best 5 years *...............             5.2            15.5             7.1             0.4            25.9             3.5            42.4
2002-2007, best 3 years *...............             4.9            14.7             6.9             0.5            28.2             3.3            41.4
2000-2008, best 5 years.................             5.5            14.6             7.8             0.3            25.8             3.3            42.7
2000-2008, best 3 years *...............             5.2            14.7             6.9             0.5            28.1             3.3            41.4
Each sector's best option...............             5.1            14.6             6.7             1.3            26.5             4.2            41.6
    Average of all options..............             4.9            14.7             6.7             0.7            26.9             3.7            42.4
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Contains rounding errors 0.1%
 

    For the purposes of setting sector allocations for the non-jig 
sectors, the Council recommended the highest of all averages across the 
various options to reduce disparities among the options. The Council 
and NMFS noted that this would result in differences depending on the 
years selected as the highest, especially after the catch histories are 
scaled among sectors to allocate 100 percent of the TAC. Using each 
sector's best percentage increases the percentage allocation to sectors 
with a best option that is substantially higher than that sector's 
average option. Furthermore, this recommendation would decrease TAC 
allocations to sectors with a best option closer to that sector's 
average option. In some cases this would result in an allocation that 
is less than each of the respective sector's average catch history. At 
final action the Council recommended further adjustments to these 
historical catch histories to address these discrepancies. Adjustments 
to the catch histories are explained in more detail in section V of 
this preamble.

V. Allocation of Total Allowable Catch (TAC)

    Under Amendment 83, NMFS would remove from regulations the inshore/
offshore allocations of TAC for Pacific cod in the Western and Central 
GOA and instead assign each sector an allocation of Pacific cod TAC to 
support each sector's directed and incidental catch needs. With the 
exception of the jig sector, the Council's recommended TAC allocations 
are based on each sector's best option from four catch history options 
in the Western GOA and six options in the Central GOA (Tables 2a and 2b 
of this preamble). The catch histories were then scaled so that the 
proposed allocations sum to 100 percent. The Council further 
apportioned the annual catch histories by season to reflect the 
seasonal fishing behaviors of each sector. If the amendment is 
approved, NMFS would seasonally apportion sector allocations between 
the A and B seasons, based on each sector's seasonal catch history 
during the qualifying years, while maintaining the aggregate 60 
percent/40

[[Page 44709]]

percent apportionment of the TAC in each regulatory area.
    In the Western GOA regulatory area these historical values were 
adjusted to incorporate changes in fishing behavior since the 
implementation of Steller sea lion protection measures. In the Western 
GOA allocations to the pot CV and C/P, hook-and-line C/P, and trawl C/P 
sectors' allocations were adjusted to account for differences between 
using each sector's best option and the average retained catch across 
the four options in the Western GOA. Specifically, the seasonal 
apportionments of the Western GOA trawl CV and pot CV and C/P 
allocations were shifted to allow a great portion of the trawl 
allocation be assigned during the A season because there is little 
historic trawl effort during the B season. These differences are 
described in detail in section 2.3.8 of the EA/RIR/IRFA for this action 
(see ADDRESSES).
    In the Central GOA, the trawl CV sector's Pacific cod allocation 
would continue to support the incidental catch in the directed rockfish 
fishery. Currently, trawl CVs that also participate in the Rockfish 
program are allocated 2.09 percent of the Central GOA regulatory area 
Pacific cod TAC to support incidental catch of Pacific cod by 
cooperatives in the rockfish fisheries. This action would not change 
their portion of the Pacific cod allocation; however, the incidental 
catch of Pacific cod by trawl CVs targeting rockfish will be deducted 
from the Central GOA trawl CV B season TAC allocation, as calculated in 
part B step 4 below.

A. Allocations to the Jig Sector

    In general, the Council's proposed allocations of Pacific cod are 
intended to formally institutionalize the historical pattern of the 
Pacific cod fisheries prosecution; however, this action would establish 
allocations to the jig sector in the Western and Central GOA regulatory 
areas that are greater than the average catch history. Typically, 
retained catch from the jig sector in the Western and Central GOA 
regulatory areas was less than one percent of the TAC from 1995 through 
2010. Under this action, NMFS would increase the amount of Pacific cod 
TAC allocated annually to jig vessels by establishing an allocation to 
the jig sector that is greater than the historic catch. If approved, 
NMFS would allocate the jig sector 1.5 percent of the Western GOA and 1 
percent of the Central GOA Pacific cod TAC.
    This action is intended to expand entry-level opportunities in the 
GOA Pacific cod fishery by providing increased initial allocations to 
the jig sector and through provisions to accommodate increased harvest 
by this sector. The Council recommended a stair-step provision to 
increase the jig allocation by 1 percent following any year in which 90 
percent or more of the Federal jig allocation in a regulatory area is 
harvested. Amendment 83 contains provisions that would increase the 
percentage allocated to the jig sectors up to 6 percent of the TAC in 
the Western and Central GOA. Although the Pacific cod allocations to 
the jig sectors would not decrease below its initial level of 1 percent 
of the TAC, the jig allocation in each regulatory area would be stepped 
down in 1 percent annual increments, if less than 90 percent of the 
allocation prior to the most recent stair-step increase were not 
harvested during two consecutive years following the stair-step 
increase, as portrayed in Table 3 of this preamble.

   Table 3--Possible Harvest Scenarios Affecting the Annual Jig Sector
   Allocation of Pacific Cod in the Western and Central Gulf of Alaska
                            Regulatory Areas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
If the previous year's jig sector   Then, in the following year, the jig
   allocation in the Western or       sector's portion of the Federal
  Central GOA regulatory areas--          Pacific cod TAC would--
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Was less than 6 percent of the     Increase by one percent.
 total Federal Pacific cod TAC in
 that area and 90 percent, or
 greater, of the TAC was
 harvested in a given year.
Was 6 percent of the total         Not change.
 Federal Pacific cod TAC in that
 area and 90 percent, or greater,
 of the TAC was harvested in a
 given year.
Was equal to or less than 6        Not change.
 percent of the total Federal
 Pacific cod TAC in that area and
 less than 90 percent of the TAC
 allocated prior to the most
 recent stair-step increase was
 harvested in that year.
Was equal to or less than 6        Decrease by one percent.
 percent of the total Federal
 Pacific cod TAC in that area and
 less than 90 percent of the TAC
 allocated prior to the most
 recent stair-step increase was
 harvested for a total of two
 consecutive years.
Was equal to one percent in the    Not change.
 Central GOA or 1.5 percent in
 the Western GOA and less than 90
 percent of the TAC was harvested
 in the last two consecutive
 years.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Amendment 83 is intended to ensure that changes to the portion of 
Pacific cod available to the jig sector do not alter the historic 
percentages assigned to other non-jig sectors. If implemented, NMFS 
would deduct the jig allocations from the total Pacific cod TAC in the 
Western GOA and Central GOA before assigning TAC to non-jig sectors. 
The allocations to the non-jig sectors would be calculated from a 
reduced amount of TAC in each regulatory area. The Council recommended 
this allocation priority for the jig sector to promote stability in the 
Pacific cod fisheries by retaining the relative value of the non-jig 
sector allocations at historic levels. An example of this calculation 
is provided in part A step 1 of section V of this preamble.
    The Council included two sets of management measures for the jig 
allocation when it took final action on Amendment 83. To implement the 
first set of management measures, NMFS proposes that any portion of the 
parallel/Federal waters jig allocation be apportioned 60 percent and 40 
percent between the A and B seasons, respectively. NMFS would amend the 
regulations at Sec.  679.23(d)(3) to modify the opening and closing 
dates of the parallel/Federal jig seasons to correspond with the GHL 
seasons. Under component 5 the Council recommended that the Federal jig 
sector allocation be divided between an A season, opening on January 1 
and closing when the A season allocation is reached or on March 15, 
whichever occurs first, and a Federal B season which would open on June 
10 or after the State GHL season closes, or whichever happens first.
    NMFS proposes Federal A and B seasons for vessels using jig gear 
that are consistent with the Council's intent to increase opportunities 
for the jig sector to access Pacific cod; however, this action would 
not implement a mandatory March 15 limit for the Federal A season. NMFS 
will continue to work with the State of Alaska Board of Fisheries Joint 
Protocol Committee to

[[Page 44710]]

create a seamless Federal and State GHL jig fishery that would increase 
access to Federal waters for vessels using jig gear. An analysis of the 
best available information has revealed several complications--detailed 
below--associated with implementing the recommended March 15 closure 
date. The March 15 closure date was recommend by the Council, in part, 
after reviewing the historic Western and Central GOA Federal A season 
closure dates; however, the recommended season does not account for the 
different regulatory triggers which open the State waters GHL fishery 
in each of the State management areas.
    The Council contemplated reciprocal regulatory action by the State 
of Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF) to synchronize the State and Federal 
season; however the BOF has yet to recommend similar action to 
establish a seamless jig fishery season. The BOF is expected to take 
action on Pacific cod agenda items during its October 2011 meeting. 
NMFS does not presume to know what date, if any, the BOF might set for 
each State management area. Therefore, NMFS is proposing to not 
implement the March 15 closure date. NMFS could revise the final rule 
to implement Amendment 83 to establish a March 15 closure date for the 
Federal A season jig fishery if the BOF takes action to specifically 
establish that closure date.
    NMFS interprets the March 15 closure date for the A season Federal 
TAC season as guidance to the BOF for the ongoing discussion with the 
Joint Protocol Committee. To meet Council intent, it is not tenable to 
implement the March 15 closure date, as recommended by the Council. 
Therefore, if this rule is implemented NMFS would not close the A 
season fishery on March 15, but would instead close the fishery when 
the TAC has been harvested or on June 10, whichever occurs first. This 
action is intended to provide a seamless Federal jig fishery while 
providing the State of Alaska BOF the flexibility necessary to open and 
close the GHL and parallel fisheries in each regulatory area as they 
see fit. Harvest from the parallel/Federal fishery would be deducted 
from the TAC and harvest from the state GHL fishery would be deducted 
from the GHL.
    Moreover, the language of the Council's motion is not clear in 
regards to opening the Federal B season. The motion mentions only one 
GHL season closure as the trigger for opening the B season. However 
there are different GHL closure dates for each of the State management 
areas depending on the rate of harvest and overall amount of GHL 
available to jig gear. In some areas the GHL season is not closed and 
GHL is left unharvested annually (e.g., Chignik Management Area). In 
order to implement the Council's motion, NMFS would have to rely on a 
specific action of the State--closure of a GHL fishery, to begin the B 
season fishery. Due to the ambiguous definition of ``a GHL fishery,'' 
NMFS cannot precisely determine which closure of which GHL fishery 
would be used to establish the opening date of the Federal B season 
fishery. This lack of specificity is particularly problematic in the 
Central GOA. Four State managed GHL fisheries occur within the Central 
GOA management area--Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, Kodiak, and 
Chignik. The Council did not specify if one, two, three, or all four 
State GHL fisheries would need to be closed by the State before the 
Federal B season jig fishery could open. Due to this lack of 
specificity, NMFS proposes to retain the current jig B season opening 
date of June 10. The Federal B season jig allocation would remain open 
from June 10 until the jig TAC is reached, or December 31, whichever 
occurs first.
    The jig A season would close on or before June 10 and the B season 
would open June 10. In years where the A season jig TAC is not fully 
harvested prior to June 10, the latest closing date for the A season, 
NMFS inseason management would assess the amount of A season TAC 
remaining and the ability of the fleet to harvest that TAC. Any unused 
A season TAC allocated to a sector under this action could be 
reapportioned to that sector for the B season. This action is necessary 
to provide jig vessels additional opportunity to safely harvest their 
unharvested A season Pacific cod TAC allocations in the B season. For 
non-jig sectors, the B season would open on September 1.
    NMFS notes that the proposed concurrent management of Federal TAC 
and State GHL seasons complicates catch accounting for State and 
Federal managers. If this action is approved, the assignment of catch 
to the TAC or GHL fishery will become more complex due to the 
overlapping season. NMFS notes that it may be necessary for increased 
coordination and outreach among State fishery managers and the jig 
fleet to ensure accurate accounting of landings to the State or Federal 
statistical area of harvest.
    The BOF has requested proposals to change the Pacific cod 
regulations for the Prince William Sound Area (Registration Area E), 
Cook Inlet Area (Registration Area H), Kodiak Area (Registration Area 
K), Chignik Area (Registration Area L), and South Alaska Peninsula Area 
(Registration Area M). Based on past experience in similar actions, 
NMFS expects that the BOF will act to address changes to the State 
waters Pacific cod fisheries at their October 2011 meeting.
    The Council also recommended as part of Amendment 83 a second set 
of management measures dependent on BOF action that are not addressed 
in this proposed rule. The Council is considering alternative measures 
for managing the Federal jig fisheries consistent with the Council's 
stated goals and in coordination with the BOF Joint Protocol Committee.
1. Example of TAC Allocations to the Jig Sector
    The following section provides an example of how the Pacific cod 
TAC allocations to the jig sector would be calculated if Amendment 83 
is implemented. The figures used in this example are based on the ABCs 
and TACs established for 2011 as part of the final harvest 
specifications for groundfish of the GOA (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011). 
The estimates used in these examples are subject to future regulatory 
change before the final harvest specifications are published in the 
Federal Register for the 2012 Pacific cod fishing year.
    Step 1: Subtract GHL for the State waters fisheries from the ABC to 
calculate TAC. NMFS would establish the GOA overfishing level (OFL), 
and the Western, Central, and Eastern ABCs for Pacific cod in the GOA 
according to the methodology described in part C of section I of this 
preamble. Table 4 of this preamble displays the allocation of the ABCs 
to the Western, Central, and Eastern GOA regulatory areas. NMFS would 
set each GOA Pacific cod TAC less than or equal to the regulatory area 
ABC. The Pacific cod TACs in the GOA would be calculated to accommodate 
the State's GHLs for Pacific cod. As detailed in part C of section II 
of this proposed rule, the TAC would be reduced up to 25 percent of the 
ABC in each regulatory area to account for harvest in the State waters 
fisheries. After accounting for the GHL, NMFS would calculate TAC for 
each regulatory area (ABC - GHL = TAC as shown in Table 4). The 
calculations used this example are approximate because the Council 
could choose to set the TAC less than the ABC-GHL.

[[Page 44711]]



 Table 4--Example Calculations for Determining the Amount of GOA Pacific Cod ABC for Harvest in the State Waters
                                    Fisheries GHL and Example TAC Allocations
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Percent ABC
    GOA Regulatory Area (OFL=                       deducted to         GHL         Percent ABC     TAC = (ABC-
           102,600 mt)                ABC mt        account for     subtracted     remaining for      GHL) mt
                                                        GHL         from ABC mt         TAC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WGOA............................          30,380              25           7,595              75          22,785
CGOA............................          53,816              25          13,454              75          40,362
EGOA............................           2,604              25             651              75           1,953
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Step 2: Calculate TAC allocation to the jig sector. NMFS would need 
to calculate the allocation of Pacific cod TAC to the jig sector first 
and then apportion the remaining TAC among the non-jig sectors in the 
Western and Central GOA, as described in detail in part B of section V 
of this preamble. Table 5 displays estimates of the jig sector TAC 
allocation for Pacific cod by regulatory area and season, assuming the 
recommended initial jig sector allocations are approved for the Western 
and Central GOA at 1.5 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Further 
description of the stair-step provisions for increasing and decreasing 
the jig sector's portion of the TAC can be found earlier in this 
section. After assigning TACs to each regulatory area, NMFS would 
calculate the jig sector allocation (TAC X percent jig allocation = 
annual jig TAC) in the Western and Central GOA. This proposed action 
does not allocate TAC by season or sector in the Eastern GOA for 
reasons detailed in part B of section IV of this preamble. Allocations 
to the Eastern GOA are provided in this example to include a complete 
picture of the GOA Pacific cod fishery.

                            Table 5--Example of Pacific Cod TAC Allocations to the Jig Sector in the Western and Central GOA
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                              Non-jig
                      Regulatory area                           TAC mt      Percent Total    Jig Sector    Jig Sector TAC     Sectors         Non-jig
                                                                                 TAC         Percent TAC         mt         Percent TAC   Sectors TAC mt
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WGOA......................................................          22,785           35.0             1.5             342           98.5          22,443
CGOA......................................................          40,362           62.0             1.0             404           99            39,958
EGOA......................................................           1,953            3.0             0.0               0          100             1,953
                                                           ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.................................................          65,100          100               N/A             746          N/A            64,254
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Seasonal Sector Allocations by Area to Non-Jig Sector Participants

    The Council recommended seasonal allocations of Pacific cod to each 
sector as part of Amendment 83. The values for each sector, except jig, 
in the Western GOA and Central GOA, as recommended by the Council are 
presented in Table 6 below.

  Table 6--Recommended Pacific Cod Sector Allocations as Approved by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council During Final Action on Amendment 83
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                Compare to 60/40        A season     B season     A season     B season
                                                                           --------------------------  allocation   allocation   allocation   allocation
                                                                Percentage                           ---------------------------------------------------
                            Sector                                annual     Percentage   Percentage   Percentage   Percentage   Percentage   Percentage
                                                                allocation    A season     B season      annual       annual      seasonal     seasonal
                                                                                                       allocation   allocation   allocation   allocation
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Western GOA sector allocations after the jig allocation is subtracted from the TAC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HAL CV.......................................................          1.4         47.2         52.8         0.7          0.7          1.1          1.8
HAL C/P......................................................         19.8         55.2         44.8        10.9          8.9         18.2         22.2
Trawl CV.....................................................         38.4         72.3         27.7        27.7         10.7         46.2         26.6
Trawl C/P....................................................          2.4         37.9         62.1         0.9          1.5          1.5          3.7
Pot CV/C/P...................................................         38.0         52.0         48.0        19.8         18.2         32.9         45.6
                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total....................................................        100.0  ...........  ...........        60.0         40.0    \*\ 100.0    \*\ 100.0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Central GOA sector allocations after the jig allocation is subtracted from the TAC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HAL CV <50...................................................         14.6         63.9         36.1         9.3          5.3         15.5         13.2
HAL CV >=50..................................................          6.7         84.0         16.0         5.6          1.1          9.4          2.7
HAL C/P......................................................          5.1         80.3         19.7         4.1          1.0          6.8          2.5
Trawl CV.....................................................         41.6         50.8         49.2        21.1         20.5         35.2         51.2
Trawl C/P....................................................          4.2         48.8         51.2         2.0          2.2          3.4          5.4
Pot CV/C/P...................................................         27.8         63.9         36.1        17.8         10.0         29.7         25.1
                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 44712]]

 
    Total....................................................        100.0  ...........  ...........    \*\ 60.0     \*\ 40.0        100.0    \*\ 100.0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Due to rounding, percentages for each sector might not sum to totals.

    NMFS proposes seasonal allocations to non-jig sectors that differ 
slightly from the Council's motion. The Council's motion for Amendment 
83 recommended seasonal and sector allocations that contain truncation 
or rounding errors, which result in total seasonal allocation 
percentages that, in some cases, do not equal 100 percent annually (see 
Table 6 of this preamble). The Council noted these discrepancies at 
final action but did not offer guidance on revising the values. NMFS 
proposes to remove these errors in order to implement the Council's 
objectives for promoting stability and predictability in the GOA 
Pacific cod fishery. If implemented NMFS would (1) Revise the 
percentages allocated to each sector in the Central GOA by expanding 
the value to the hundred-thousandth place, (2) calculate the difference 
between the seasonal percentages in Table 7 and the 60 percent and 40 
percent intended as the seasonal distribution of fishing effort, and 
then (3) equitably apportion the difference as a pro rata amount from 
each sector.
    Under the Council's recommended allocations, the Central GOA would 
be allocated 59.9 percent and 40.1 percent of the annual TAC to the A 
season and B season, respectively. If implemented, NMFS would modify 
the recommended sector allocations, by shifting 0.1 percent of the 
annual TAC from the B season to the A season. As a result, NMFS 
proposes reducing each sector's B season allocation by their pro rata 
portion of 0.1 percent and adding to each sector's A season allocation 
their pro rata share of 0.1 percent. The resulting percentage 
allocations sum to 60 percent and 40 percent in the A and B seasons, 
respectively, as displayed in Table 7 of this preamble. This approach 
would provide an equitable redistribution of the seasonal TAC 
allocation to each sector and would result in a minimal change relative 
to the Council's motion.

   Table 7--Example Comparison of the Council's Proposed Allocations and the Corrected Values Proposed by NMFS
                                                Under This Action
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Percentage of A season allocations     Percentage of B season allocations
                                   -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Sector                 Council's                              Council's
                                       motion      Proposed    Difference     motion      Proposed    Difference
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Central GOA annual TAC allocations to the A and B seasons after the jig allocation is subtracted from the TAC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HAL CV <50........................      9.30000      9.31552      0.01552       5.3000      5.28678      0.01322
HAL CV >=50.......................      5.60000      5.60935      0.00935       1.1000      1.09726      0.00274
HAL C/P...........................      4.10000      4.10684      0.00684       1.0000      0.99751      0.00249
Trawl CV..........................     21.10000     21.13523      0.03523      20.5000     20.44888      0.05112
Trawl C/P.........................      2.00000      2.00334      0.00334       2.2000      2.19451      0.00549
Pot CV/C/P........................     17.80000     17.82972      0.02972      10.0000      9.97506      0.02494
                                   -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.........................     59.90000     60.00000      0.10000      40.1000     40.00000      0.10000
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Example of Allocations to Fishery Participants
    Step 1: Assign TAC to Western and Central GOA regulatory areas. If 
Amendment 83 is approved, NMFS would allocate TAC to non-jig sectors in 
the Western and Central GOA, as specified in part B of section V of 
this preamble. First, NMFS would need to calculate the amount of TAC 
remaining after the deductions for the jig sector (Total TAC - jig TAC 
= non-jig TAC). The remaining TAC will be allocated to each non-jig 
sector as calculated below. In this example, the total TAC amounts 
(Table 4) are reduced by 342 mt in the Western GOA and 404 mt in the 
Central GOA (Table 5) to account for the jig sector's allocation. The 
remaining TAC will be further allocated to each non-jig sector, as 
calculated in Step 2 below.
    Step 2: Assign TAC to sectors by season in Western and Central GOA. 
NMFS would allocate the remaining TAC to each sector as described in 
parts A and B of section V of this preamble. NMFS would need to 
apportion the remaining TAC (Table 5) among the non-jig sectors at the 
seasonal percentages proposed by NMFS.
    Although the length and timing of seasons often differs among 
sectors, NMFS would calculate the seasonal apportionments of the TAC 
using the same methodology. NMFS would multiply each sector's seasonal 
portion of the annual TAC by the amount of TAC allocated to non-jig 
sectors in the Western and Central GOA regulatory areas. NMFS would not 
allocate the Eastern GOA TAC among sectors or season; however, NMFS 
would continue to apportion the Eastern GOA TAC between the inshore (90 
percent of the TAC) and the offshore (10 percent) components of the 
fishery, as displayed in Table 8 below.

[[Page 44713]]



 Table 8--Example of the Adjusted Pacific Cod Allocations in the GOA by Regulatory Area, Sector and Season, and
                                 Inshore/Offshore as Proposed Under Amendment 83
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                        Seasonal allowances
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          A Season (60%)                  B Season (40%)
           Regulatory area and sector            ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Percent of                      Percent of
                                                  annual Non-Jig     Total mt     Annual Non-Jig     Total mt
                                                        TAC                             TAC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA:
    Jig.........................................             N/A             205             N/A             137
    Hook-and-line CV............................            0.70             157            0.70             157
    Hook-and-line C/P...........................           10.90           2,446            8.90           1,997
    Trawl CV....................................           27.70           6,217           10.70           2,401
    Trawl C/P...................................            0.90             202            1.50             337
    All Pot CV and C/P..........................           19.80           4,444           18.20           4,085
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................................           60.00          13,671           40.00           9,114
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Central GOA:
    Jig.........................................             N/A             242             N/A             162
    Hook-and-line <50 CV........................            9.32           3,722            5.29           2,112
    Hook-and-line >=50 CV.......................            5.61           2,241            1.10             438
    Hook-and-line C/P...........................            4.11           1,641            1.00             399
    Trawl CV....................................           21.13           8,445           20.45           8,171
    Trawl C/P...................................            2.00             801            2.19             877
    All Pot CV and C/P..........................           17.83           7,125            9.97           3,986
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................................           60.00          24,217           40.00          16,145
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Eastern GOA *                        Component Allocation
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                     TAC mt                         Inshore mt      Offshore mt
                                                           (90%)           (10%)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1,953...........................................           1,758             195
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 \*\ Although this action would not change the current inshore/offshore allocation in the Eastern GOA, the
  estimated TAC is included to provide a complete example of Pacific cod allocations in the GOA should this
  action be approved.

    Step 3: Apportion Central GOA trawl CV B season allocation to the 
rockfish fishery. In the Central GOA regulatory area, CVs participating 
in the Rockfish Program (as defined at 50 CFR 679.2) would be allocated 
a portion of the B season trawl CV allocation. This TAC would be 
allocated to rockfish participants as cooperative quota. Each year NMFS 
would calculate the incidental catch of Pacific cod required for the 
Rockfish Program by multiplying the amount of Central GOA trawl CV TAC 
by 2.09 percent. Using data calculated from the 2011 example in Table 
8, NMFS estimates that 171 mt of Pacific cod would be deducted from the 
Central GOA B season TAC (8,171 mt x 2.09% = 171 mt).

C. Reallocation of Unharvested Pacific Cod Among Sectors

    NMFS anticipates, based on experience in the BSAI, that if GOA 
Pacific cod is allocated to various sectors, one or more sectors would 
be unable to harvest their annual allocation of the Pacific cod TAC. 
Thus, to provide an opportunity for the full harvest of the GOA Pacific 
cod TAC, NMFS would reallocate Pacific cod TAC that is projected to be 
unharvested to other sectors.
    The priority reallocation of unharvested Pacific cod to CVs is 
intended to promote stability in coastal communities that are dependent 
on the Pacific cod fishery and have traditionally participated in the 
fishery as part of the inshore sector. During the last fishing season 
of the year, i.e., B season, NMFS would consider if sectors would be 
unlikely to use their remaining GOA Pacific cod allocation. Any portion 
of a CV, C/P, or jig allocation that NMFS determines will remain 
unharvested during the remainder of the fishing year would become 
available to other sectors for harvest as soon as practicable. NMFS 
would reallocate these projected unused allocations to the CV sectors 
first, and then to all sectors, taking into account the capability of a 
sector, as determined by NMFS' Alaska Regional Administrator, to 
harvest the remaining Pacific cod TAC. However, NMFS may reallocate the 
projected unused allocations to the combined pot CV and C/P sectors 
first, after consideration the CV sectors first, and then the remaining 
sector's capability to fully harvest the remaining TAC.

VI. Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) Allocations

    PSC regulations pertain to certain species caught in the process of 
fishing for groundfish that must be accounted for but cannot be 
retained, except for halibut and salmon retained under the donation 
program at Sec.  679.26. Regulations at Sec.  679.21 establish PSC 
limits in the GOA groundfish fisheries for Pacific halibut. These 
regulations include separate Pacific halibut PSC limits for hook-and-
line and trawl gear at Sec.  679.21(d)(4). Attainment of a PSC limit 
results in directed fishing for Pacific cod being prohibited, even if 
the seasonal Pacific cod apportionment has not been fully harvested. 
Trawl vessels, and, to a lesser extent, hook-and-line vessels, compete 
to catch Pacific cod at the highest possible rate during the B season, 
with the knowledge that halibut PSC limits may close the Pacific cod B 
season at any time. Halibut PSC limits often constrain the length of 
the B season for these sectors. During years

[[Page 44714]]

when the halibut PSC limit has not limited participation by trawl and 
hook-and-line vessels, the B season TACs have been fully harvested.

A. General Description

    NMFS proposes to apportion the non-demersal shelf rockfish fishery 
portion of the hook-and-line halibut PSC limit between operation types 
as part of the harvest specifications process. Hook-and-line sector 
allotments of halibut PSC limits are intended to protect the historical 
B season catches during these years, but would not be expected to 
directly impact halibut bycatch. The proposed apportionments of halibut 
PSC limits are intended to increase the ability of each hook-and-line 
sector to plan their fishing operations, as described in further detail 
in section 2.2.8 of the EA/RIR/IRFA for this action (see ADDRESSES).
    Apportioning the halibut PSC limit to hook-and-line CV and C/P 
sectors would prevent one sector from pre-empting the other sector's 
fishing season by using a greater than expected proportion of the hook-
and-line halibut PSC limit. These PSC apportionments also would apply 
to hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps operating in the Eastern GOA; however, 
the halibut PSC limit apportionments would only be derived from Pacific 
cod TAC allocations to the Western and Central GOA. Annually, NMFS 
would calculate the halibut PSC limit apportionments for the entire GOA 
to hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps.
    This action would not affect halibut PSC limits apportioned to 
trawl vessels; however, the Council is considering action to further 
modify halibut PSC limits in the GOA during their October 2011 meeting.
1. Example of PSC Calculations
    The following section provides an example of the calculations 
necessary to allocate the halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line 
CV and C/P sectors, as proposed by this action. The figures used in 
this example are based on the 2011 PSC limits and 2011 Pacific cod ABC 
area apportionments established as part of the final harvest 
specifications for groundfish of the GOA (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011).
    Step 1: Calculate the total percent allocations of Pacific Cod to 
the respective hook-and-line sectors for the Western and Central GOA. 
The Council recommended that NMFS allocate the GOA hook-and-line 
halibut PSC limit between the C/P and CV sectors in proportion to the 
total Western and Central GOA Pacific cod percent allocations to each 
hook-and-line sector. This is accomplished by summing the respective 
hook-and-line percent sector allocations for each operation type for 
the Western and Central GOA, as shown in Table 9. In the Central GOA 
this requires the additional step of combining the TAC allocations of 
both hook-and-line CV sectors (< 50 ft (15.2 m) LOA and =50 
ft (15.2 m) LOA). Although the halibut PSC limits proposed by this 
action apply to the entire GOA, including the Eastern GOA regulatory 
area, the apportionment of the hook-and-line PSC limits would be 
calculated solely based on the hook-and-line allocations of the Western 
and Central GOA TACs as described in Table 9 of this preamble.
    Step 2: Scale the total hook-and-line CV and C/P Pacific cod 
percent allocations to reflect the relative size of the Pacific cod TAC 
area apportionments. Annually, NMFS would need to scale the total hook-
and-line CV and C/P percent sector allocations in proportion to the 
relative size of the Pacific cod TAC area apportionments, because the 
Pacific cod TAC allocations to each regulatory area may change 
depending on the stock status in each area, as determined by the annual 
surveys. NMFS would then apportion the GOA hook-and-line halibut PSC 
limit to the hook-and-line sectors in proportion to the scaled hook-
and-line sector allocations.

Table 9--Example for Calculating the Relative Amount of TAC Allocated to
 the Western and Central GOA and for Calculating the Total Hook-and-Line
 CV and Total Hook-and-Line C/P Percentage Allocation in Each Regulatory
                                  Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Percent of      Percent of
        Combined sectors            WGOA TAC        CGOA TAC      Sum of
                                    (Scaled)        (Scaled)     percent
------------------------------------------------------------------------
HAL C/P........................             7.1             3.3  10.4
HAL CV.........................             0.5            13.6  14.1
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Step 3: Apportion total hook-and-line PSC limits between hook-and-
line CVs and C/Ps. The Council recommended that NMFS maintain the 2011 
halibut PSC limits of 2,000 mt for the trawl fisheries and 300 mt for 
the hook-and-line fisheries. Ten mt of the hook-and-line PSC limit is 
further allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish fishery, leaving 290 
mt to be allocated between the hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps. To calculate 
the annual hook-and-line allocations of the PSC limit, NMFS would 
multiply the scaled annual allocations of TAC by the 290 mt non-
demersal shelf rockfish hook-and-line PSC limit. In the 2011 example, 
NMFS calculated that hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors 
would receive 167 mt and 123 mt, respectively, as shown in Table 10 of 
this preamble.

Table 10--Hook-and-Line (HAL) Halibut Prohibited Species Catch Limits by Operational Type for the Gulf of Alaska
                                              Groundfish Fisheries
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Relative
                                                                      Sum of          percent
                        Combined sectors                              percent       between C/P    PSC limit mt
                                                                                      and CV
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HAL C/P.........................................................            10.4            42.4             123
HAL CV..........................................................            14.1            57.6             167
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 44715]]

    Step 4: Project and reallocate unused PSC limits. NMFS would 
reallocate PSC projected to remain unused by a sector at the end of the 
fishing year to the other hook-and-line sector. No later than November 
1, NMFS would calculate the amount of unused halibut PSC by one of the 
hook-and-line sectors for the remainder of the year. The projected 
amount of halibut PSC would be made available to the other hook-and-
line sector for the remainder of that fishing year.

VII. Pacific Cod Sideboard Limits in the GOA

    NMFS would recalculate several Pacific cod sideboards for the 
Western and Central GOA regulatory areas. The Council recommended 
sideboard allocations for the non-exempt AFA CVs and non-AFA crab 
vessels that would supersede the inshore/offshore processing sideboards 
established under the AFA and Crab Rationalization Program. These 
sideboards would be calculated annually as part of the harvest 
specification process. Non-exempt AFA CV sideboards would be 
recalculated by combining the inshore and offshore sideboards into a 
single account in the respective Western and Central GOA regulatory 
areas. In recent years, offshore sideboard allocations have not been 
fully harvested while inshore allocations are typically fully utilized. 
By combining the two sideboard categories into a single sideboard for 
each regulatory area, the Council's recommendation was intended to make 
the offshore sideboard allocation available to the CVs historically 
associated with the inshore processing components (See Table 11 of this 
preamble).
    Although this combination would simplify the catch accounting of 
sideboard allocations, the Council declined to recommend similar 
sideboard allocations for the non-AFA crab vessel fishery because the 
inshore and offshore sideboards are typically fully harvested. A 
combination of the inshore and offshore sideboards is likely to result 
in increased competition and decrease stability in this fishery. 
Instead, this action would recalculate non-AFA crab vessel sideboards 
as separate C/P and CV sideboards for each gear type. The Council and 
NMFS recognize that the proposed non-AFA crab vessel sideboards could 
result in CV trawl, hook-and-line, and jig allocations that are too 
small to support directed fisheries for Pacific cod in these regulatory 
areas.

      Table 11--Example Calculation of the GOA Pacific Cod Sideboards for AFA CVs and Non-AFA Crab Vessels
Recalculated by Combining Inshore and Offshore Sideboards Into a Single Sideboard Percentage for Each Regulatory
                 Area; Non-AFA Crab Vessel Sideboards Also Calculated by Gear and Operation Type
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    2011 Estimated sideboard mt
                         Regulatory area                          % Sideboard of -------------------------------
                                                                        TAC          A season        B season
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                AFA CV Sideboards
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA.....................................................           13.31           1,820           1,213
Central GOA.....................................................            6.92           1,676           1,117
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Non-AFA Crab Sideboards
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA:
    Hook-and-line CV............................................            0.03               4               3
    Pot CV......................................................            8.16           1,116             744
    Trawl CV....................................................            0.60              82              55
    Hook-and-line C/P...........................................            0.15              21              14
    Pot C/P.....................................................            0.64              87              58
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total C/P...............................................            0.79             108              72
        Total CV................................................            8.80           1,202             802
                                                                 -----------------
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
Central GOA:
    Trawl CV....................................................            0.10              24              16
    Hook-and-line CV............................................            0.01               2               2
    Jig CV......................................................               *               *               *
    Pot CV......................................................            3.54             857             572
    Hook-and-line C/P...........................................               *               *               *
    Pot C/P.....................................................            0.92             223             149
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total C/P...............................................               *               *               *
        Total CV................................................               *               *               *
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
            Total...............................................            4.64            1124             749
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* These data are considered confidential under the MSA and other Federal laws and are not included in the table.
 

    In October 2008, the Council recommended Amendment 34 to the FMP. 
NMFS published the notice of availability for Amendment 34 on March 14, 
2011 (76 FR 13593). NMFS published the proposed rule to implement 
Amendment 34 on March 28, 2011 (76 FR 17088). If approved, this action 
would amend the Crab Rationalization Program to exempt additional 
fishery participants from GOA Pacific cod sideboard limits.

[[Page 44716]]

Under the Program, five vessels and five LLP licenses are exempt from 
GOA Pacific cod sideboard limits established for the non-AFA Crab 
vessels. These vessels and groundfish LLP licenses qualified for the 
exemption in part because of their historic dependence on the GOA 
Pacific cod fishery. Therefore under current regulations, these vessels 
are able to participate in the GOA Pacific cod fishery unrestricted by 
the sideboard limit. The exempt non-AFA crab vessels do not have to 
stop fishing when the GOA Pacific cod sideboard limit is reached and 
may continue to fish as long as directed fishing for GOA Pacific cod is 
open. Although Amendment 34 would exempt three additional non-AFA crab 
vessels from the GOA Pacific cod sideboard limits, that action should 
not affect the modifications to the sideboard limits proposed here, 
except to reduce the number of vessels fishing under the sideboard 
restrictions.

VIII. Community Protection Measures

    In 1992, the inshore/offshore processing allocations were 
established under Amendment 23 to the FMP (57 FR 23321; June 3, 1992) 
and were intended to prevent one sector from processing a larger 
portion of the harvest than that sector has historically processed. The 
inshore/offshore processing allocations enabled vessels and facilities 
operators to better plan their annual harvest and processing activity. 
These provisions protected the inshore processing component from 
competition by the offshore fleet. If approved, Amendment 83 would 
supersede the inshore/offshore allocations with sector allocations for 
the Western and Central GOA.

A. Proposed Community Protection Provisions

    The Council recognized the potential for a shift in the processing 
and delivery patterns in the GOA Pacific cod fishery and included 
community protection provisions as part of Amendment 83. If 
implemented, this action would promote stability in the distribution of 
catch among the processing sectors by limiting the amount of Pacific 
cod processed by vessel currently classified as offshore processors: 
motherships, C/Ps receiving deliveries over the side, and any floating 
processor that does not meet the definition of a stationary floating 
processor in Sec.  679.2. This action would retain restrictions 
established under the inshore/offshore system to prohibit stationary 
floating processors from engaging in mothership activity in more than 
one geographic location in the GOA, or operating as a C/P in the GOA 
during the same calendar year. In addition, this proposed rule would 
establish various processing caps as part of the new sector allocations 
in the Western and Central GOA. Without these restrictions and 
processing caps, owners and operators of vessels receiving deliveries 
of Pacific cod could shift historic processing delivery patterns away 
from communities historically depended on processing activity. This 
proposed action is intended to retain the community participation in 
the processing of Pacific cod established by the inshore/offshore 
regulations.
    If implemented, this action would establish provisions to limit the 
amount of Pacific cod processed by motherships and other vessels 
receiving deliveries of Pacific cod from other vessels for processing 
in the GOA. Under this action, vessels would be prohibited from 
receiving deliveries of groundfish in the Central GOA where there has 
been no mothership activity since 2000. In the Western GOA, NMFS would 
prohibit motherships from processing a greater portion of Pacific cod 
than during the inshore/offshore management program. If implemented, 
vessels (e.g. processors that do not meet the definition of a 
stationary floating processor) that receive deliveries of groundfish 
for processing would be restricted to processing two percent of the 
Western GOA Pacific cod TAC. Although this action does not establish a 
mothership TAC allocation as part of this action, NMFS would close 
deliveries to mothership vessels in the Western GOA when the annual two 
percent processing cap is predicted to be reached. Pacific cod 
harvested as direct or indirect catch and delivered to another vessel 
for processing would be debited against the harvesting vessel's 
operational type and or gear type allocation, as described in section 
IX of this preamble.
    NMFS also propose separate processing caps for mothership vessels 
operating within specific communities within the Western and Central 
GOA. This action is intended to provide CV operators with more options 
for making deliveries and to provide incentives for additional 
processors to operate within the marine municipal boundaries of 
specific coastal communities in the Western and Central GOA that 
qualify under the community quota entity (CQE) program.

B. Description of Community Quota Entity (CQE) Communities

    The Council established the CQE program to ensure specified coastal 
communities have access to and sustained participation in commercial 
fisheries. To participate in the CQE program, each community must meet 
the following criteria--fewer than 1,500 residents; documented 
historical participation in the halibut or sablefish fisheries; direct 
access to saltwater on the GOA; no road access to a larger community; 
and be listed in Table 21 to 50 CFR part 679. The final rule 
implementing the CQE program was published in the Federal Register on 
April 30, 2004 (69 FR 23681).
    As of April 29, 2011, 24 CQE non-profits corporations represent 24 
unique Alaskan communities. Communities that are not identified in 
Table 21 to 50 CFR part 679 must be recommended by the Council to be 
approved for participation in the program. A regulatory change to 50 
CFR Table 21 is required to add or remove an eligible CQE community. To 
be to receive benefits under the program an eligible community must 
form a non-profit cooperation, under the applicable State laws, and 
complete an application to NMFS. If approved, each CQE applicant must 
annually submit a report to NMFS summarizing the relevant activities of 
the non-profit cooperation.
    NMFS proposes to allow Federally permitted CV and C/P vessels that 
do not meet the definition of stationary floating processor, and that 
do not harvest groundfish off GOA in the same calendar year, to operate 
as floating processors within the marine municipal boundaries of 
Western and Central GOA CQE communities. Such vessels would be 
permitted to process up to three percent of the Western GOA and up to 
three percent of the Central GOA Pacific cod TACs. NMFS would authorize 
vessels to receive deliveries and process groundfish in multiple CQE 
communities within a calendar year. This community protection measure 
is intended to promote new markets for processing groundfish in 
communities where there is currently no shoreside processor.
    NMFS also proposes to permit eligible vessels to process groundfish 
in CQE communities that provide certified municipal land and water 
boundaries to the State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, 
and Economic Development (DCED). Community boundaries are defined as 
the certified municipal land and maritime boundaries provided to the 
DCED. Documentation of the established municipal boundaries, including 
CQE communities with certified municipal boundaries, can be found on 
the DCED Web site at http://dcra.commerce.alaska.gov/DCBD/municipal%20Certificates/Cities/. Tying

[[Page 44717]]

processing activity to Western and Central GOA CQE communities provides 
economic benefits from any increase in this activity to these 
communities (i.e., tax revenues). Communities with certified municipal 
maritime boundaries would be eligible to receive tax revenues based on 
the value of the processing activity.
    Cities and boroughs are considered municipalities by the State. All 
communities subject to this action are within a municipal boundary. 
Some communities are municipalities within municipal borough 
boundaries. Whether a community is a municipality within a municipal 
borough or not is important for tax revenues sharing purposes. Cities 
that are municipalities are guaranteed either 25 or 50 percent, 
depending on municipal status, of State fisheries taxes collected 
within their boundaries. Allowing motherships to operate in State 
waters within the boundaries of municipalities that levy taxes may have 
implications for employment in communities with processors, but 
mandating activity inside taxation zones ensures that communities will 
realize tax revenues similar to those collected without this action. 
During deliberations on Amendment 83, the Council and NMFS noted that 
many communities eligible to participate under the CQE program do not 
have certified maritime boundaries; however, these CQE communities 
could elect to apply, under the process established by the State, to 
certify new or to revise municipal land and maritime boundaries in 
order to participate in these community protection measures.
    This action would permit eligible vessels to operate in the Western 
and Central GOA within the boundaries of municipalities eligible to 
participate in the CQE program. The owners or operators of motherships 
or other floating processors that are not stationary floating 
processors, defined at Sec.  679.2, could apply for an FPP with a CQE 
floating processor endorsement. Under this action, Federally permitted 
vessels that receive and process groundfish from other vessels, and 
have not been used to harvest groundfish off Alaska during the same 
calendar year (i.e., motherships) could temporarily process groundfish 
within the municipal boundaries of a Western or Central GOA CQE 
community. This action would retain established regulations that 
restrict the owners and operators of vessel from possessing both an FPP 
and an FFP simultaneously, as described in section II.A.3 of this 
preamble. Retaining this requirement ensures that Federally permitted 
vessels cannot participate in the Pacific cod fishing as both a SFP and 
a CQE floating processor in the same calendar year in the GOA. However, 
owners and operators of a vessel permitted with an FFP and a mothership 
endorsement that do not harvest groundfish in the GOA in a calendar 
year can surrender their FFP within a fishing year and apply for an FPP 
with a CQE endorsement. Exempting motherships from regulations intended 
to restrict harvesting vessels from surrendering their FFP would ensure 
that vessels exclusively engaged in mothership activity in the GOA 
could participate in the fisheries as both a mothership and CQE 
floating processor in the same calendar year, as described in section 
IX.A of this preamble.
    To promote compliance with these community protection provisions, 
NMFS would establish several prohibitions to monitor and enforce the 
new processing caps. Although this proposed rule would not limit the 
number of CQE communities at which a permitted floating processor may 
operate, NMFS would establish regulations to ensure that the processing 
activity of motherships occurs within the maritime boundaries of CQE 
communities and is accurately accounted against the appropriate 
processing caps. NMFS would require VMS on all vessels receiving 
deliveries of groundfish in the Western and Central GOA (e.g. Federal 
reporting areas 610, 620, or 630) during a directed Pacific cod fishing 
season, as described in more detail in section X of this preamble. 
Similarly, vessels would be prohibited from delivering Pacific cod 
harvested in the Western or Central GOA to be processed on a vessel in 
a GOA regulatory area other than regulatory area that the harvest 
occurred. Processing caps are assigned based on TAC allocations to the 
Western and Central GOA regulatory areas and therefore would need to be 
accounted accurately to ensure that regional processing caps are not 
exceeded.
    Two subsequent actions by the Council are likely to expand the 
scope of the CQE program. First is the GOA fixed gear recency action 
that the Council approved in April 2009; effective on April 21, 2011 
(76 FR 15826). One purpose of the fixed gear recency action is to 
promote community protection measures at a level that would impose 
minimal impact on historic catch shares of recent participants. This 
action adds non-severable, gear-specific Pacific cod endorsements to 
fixed gear licenses that qualify under the landings thresholds, 
effectively limiting entry into the directed Pacific cod fisheries in 
Federal waters in the Western and Central GOA. The Council balanced the 
intent of preventing future entry of latent fixed gear groundfish 
licenses into the Pacific cod fisheries with retaining opportunities 
for CQE communities dependent on access to a range of fishing 
resources.
    The CQE component of the fixed gear recency action allows each of 
the communities eligible under the CQE program in the Western and 
Central GOA to request a number of fixed gear and Pacific cod-endorsed 
licenses equal to the number currently held by residents of the 
community that are estimated to be removed under the fixed gear recency 
action under a 10 mt landing threshold, or two licenses, whichever is 
greater. The licenses issued to CQEs are non-transferable and have a 
specified MLOA of less than 60 feet for each vessel. CQEs are issued 
licenses for the area of the community they represent (Western or 
Central GOA). Licenses issued to CQEs located in the Western GOA would 
be endorsed only for pot gear. CQE communities in the Central GOA have 
the option to notify NMFS what proportion of their LLP licenses would 
have a pot endorsement or a hook-and-line endorsement.
    Under this proposed action, vessel owners and operators would need 
to apply for a CQE floating processor endorsement. This would require 
changes to the FPP application that may require a permit holder to 
amend their existing FFP. For example, permit holders would be 
prohibited from possessing both a stationary floating processor and a 
CQE floating processor endorsement on their FPP; therefore, vessel 
owners and operators currently permitted to operate as a stationary 
floating processor might need to amend their FPP to remove the 
stationary floating processor endorsement and add a CQE floating 
processor endorsement. Similarly, permit holders with a mothership FFP 
endorsement choosing to operate as a CQE floating processor would need 
to surrender their FFP and apply for an FPP with the appropriate 
endorsements.
    In addition, vessels operating as CQE floating processors would 
need to meet Federal monitoring and reporting requirements. In order 
for Pacific cod harvest to accrue against the delivery vessel's sector 
allocation, CQE floating processors in the Western and Central GOA 
would be required to submit accurate and timely reports via eLandings. 
Such requirements are necessary for NMFS to manage the Pacific cod 
harvest at or below TAC in each GOA regulatory area and to

[[Page 44718]]

manage processing caps both inside and outside of CQE municipal 
boundaries in the Western GOA.
    Secondly, the Council is considering proposals that would amend the 
existing list of CQE communities at Table 21 to 50 CFR part 679 to add 
up to three communities to the list of eligible communities in the GOA. 
At its February 2010 meeting, the Council reviewed a proposal that 
would amend the existing CQE program to add one community, Cold Bay, in 
the Western GOA. The two other communities under consideration, Game 
Creek and Naukati Bay, are located in the Eastern GOA and would not be 
directly regulated under this provision. If all the qualifying criteria 
are met, then adding these communities to the list of eligible 
municipalities would expand the scope of the community protection 
provisions of this action.

C. Definition of Stationary Floating Processor

    Under the proposed action, NMFS would retain several provisions, 
including certain prohibitions, regulating stationary floating 
processors in the GOA under the inshore/offshore allocation. NMFS would 
continue to require that stationary floating processors be limited to 
processing groundfish at a single geographic location during a given 
year to promote stability to the GOA Pacific cod fisheries. Similarly, 
this action would retain the regulatory provisions prohibiting vessels 
from operating as stationary floating processor for Pacific cod in the 
GOA and as AFA C/Ps or AFA motherships in the BSAI during the same 
year, or as C/Ps or motherships in the GOA during the same year, to 
maintain participation in the fisheries at historic levels.
    As part of this proposed action, NMFS would revise the definition 
of ``inshore component'' in the GOA to remove references to processing 
Pacific cod in the Western and Central GOA. The Council recommended 
revising other regulations governing stationary floating processors to 
preserve the processing patterns established during the inshore/
offshore allocations. Therefore, NMFS also would modify the definition 
of ``stationary floating processor'' to (1) require a stationary 
floating processor in the Western and Central GOA to process Pacific 
cod only at a single geographic location in State waters in a given 
year, and (2) prohibit a stationary floating processor in the Western 
and Central GOA from operating under the authority of an FFP in the GOA 
or under an FPP with CQE floating processor endorsement during the same 
calendar year.

IX. License Requirements

A. Participants in Parallel Fisheries

    NMFS proposes to limit entry by Federally permitted vessels into 
the parallel waters fishery. If Western or Central GOA Pacific cod 
sector allocations are established, parallel waters activity by 
Federally permitted vessel operators who do not hold LLP licenses is 
likely to erode the catches of historical participants who contributed 
catch history that helped determine the sector allocations and who 
depend on the GOA Pacific cod resource. Vessels fishing in Federal 
waters are required to hold an LLP license with the appropriate area, 
gear, and species endorsements, but vessels fishing in parallel State 
waters are not required to hold an LLP license. The Council 
recommendation would not allow Federally permitted vessels that do not 
have LLP licenses to participate in the Western or Central GOA Pacific 
cod parallel fishery adjacent to the Western or Central GOA regulatory 
areas. In addition, operators of pot, hook-and-line, or trawl vessels 
who hold an LLP license and an FFP would be required to have the 
appropriate gear, area, and species endorsements on the LLP license and 
FFP in order to participate in the Western or Central GOA Pacific cod 
parallel waters fisheries. Furthermore, Federally permitted vessel 
operators would be required to adhere to Federal seasonal closures and 
sector allocation closures while targeting Pacific cod in parallel 
waters. If unrestricted entry into the parallel fisheries were allowed, 
the objective of the proposed action, to increase stability in the 
Pacific cod fishery in the GOA, might not be achieved.
    NMFS also proposes a regulatory limit on the number of times each 
FFP with Pacific cod endorsements in the GOA can be reactivated during 
the 3-year term of the permit. Operators of vessels designated on an 
FFP are subject to NMFS observer, VMS, and recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements while fishing in Federal and State waters for groundfish. 
The loss of fisheries records due to vessels surrendering an FFP, while 
targeting Pacific cod in State waters, could degrade the quality of 
information available to manage the Pacific cod fishery, and may lead 
to increased competition within a sector and among sectors prosecuting 
the Pacific cod fishery within State waters. To prevent operators from 
circumventing these requirements, operators with a Pacific cod 
endorsement, a GOA area designation, a trawl, hook-and-line, pot, or 
jig gear designation, and a C/P or CV operation type designation would 
be precluded from removing these designations from the FFP, and if 
surrendered, each FFP would be limited to one reactivation during the 
3-year term of the permit.
    The owners and operators of vessels that do not harvest groundfish 
in the GOA and are endorsed as motherships on their FFP would be exempt 
from requirements limiting the reactivation of a surrendered permit. 
Vessels engaged solely in mothership activity could surrender their FFP 
multiple times in the 3-year term and remain eligible for a reissued 
FFP. If implemented, this exemption would enable motherships to 
surrender their FFP and operate as a CQE floating processor under the 
authority of an FPP in the same year. There is no limit on the times an 
FPP can be reissued; thus, a mothership vessel could process Pacific 
cod up to the Western GOA processing cap and the Western and Central 
GOA CQE floating processing cap in the same year and alternate between 
FFP and FPP multiple times in a 3-year permitting cycle. However, to 
account for Pacific cod processed under these processing caps, NMFS 
would require vessels receiving groundfish from other vessels for 
processing to have an operational VMS, as described in section X of 
this preamble.
    This action would not restrict an FFP holder from removing Pacific 
cod species endorsements from their FFP. Currently, an FFP holder can 
remove the species endorsement at anytime during the 3-year term of the 
FFP without surrendering the FFP. Vessels without a Pacific cod species 
endorsement are not required to have an operational VMS onboard while 
targeting other fisheries during the GOA Pacific cod fishing seasons 
but NMFS would continue to require vessels to meet all observer and 
reporting requirements. The Council noted that license holders 
typically amend FFPs to remove the species endorsements to relieve the 
VMS requirements while targeting salmon within State waters, and that 
if this action is implemented, those vessels would be prohibited from 
targeting Pacific cod without the proper endorsements.

B. Western and Central GOA Catcher Vessel Endorsements

    NMFS proposes that eligible C/P LLP license holders make a one-time 
election to receive an additional Western GOA CV and/or Central GOA CV 
endorsement for Pacific cod. C/P

[[Page 44719]]

license holders would be eligible if they made at least one Pacific cod 
landing while operating as a CV under the authority of the C/P 
endorsement on their LLP license from 2002 through 2008. The Council 
recommended this action to preclude operators from fishing off both the 
C/P and CV allocations with hook-and-line or trawl gear types. 
Otherwise, a C/P operator could fish off the hook-and-line C/P or trawl 
C/P allocation until it was fully harvested, and then could 
opportunistically continue to fish as a CV, if the hook-and-line or 
trawl CV allocation had not yet been fully harvested. The potential for 
such an outcome is inconsistent with the Council's objective to bring 
stability to the fishery through sector allocations and would 
disadvantage the CVs who would not be able to fish off of the C/P 
Pacific cod allocation.
    LLP license holders with C/P endorsements not electing to add a CV 
endorsement would have all incidental and direct catch of Pacific cod 
accrued against the C/P allocation. However, this action would not 
preclude a C/P vessel from operating as a CV. All Pacific cod harvested 
while a vessel is operating as a CV would be counted against the C/P 
allocation for that regulatory area.
    LLP license holders electing to add a CV endorsement for the 
Western or Central GOA would have all Pacific cod catch, incidental and 
direct, accrue against the CV allocation. To protect communities 
historically invested in the inshore sector under the inshore/offshore 
split, C/Ps electing to add a CV endorsement in the Western or Central 
GOA would be prohibited from acting as a C/P in the directed Pacific 
cod fishery. These vessels would, by default, depend on the components 
of the Pacific cod fishery traditionally associated with the inshore 
processing sector. LLP license holders electing to add a CV endorsement 
would retain their C/P endorsements in other directed fisheries; 
however, their incidental catch of Pacific cod in those fisheries would 
accrue against the CV allocation for that gear type and regulatory 
area. This action would not preclude operators from using more than one 
gear type to participate in the GOA Pacific cod fishery during a given 
season or year. For example, vessel operators are expected to use both 
trawl and pot gear in the GOA Pacific cod fishery during a given season 
or year, if the operator has the required LLP license and FFP 
endorsements.
    The NMFS Restricted Access Management Program (RAM) would continue 
to oversee permits issued under the LLP. RAM will notify eligible C/Ps 
of the one-time election opportunity to add a Western GOA or Central 
GOA CV Pacific cod endorsement on an LLP license. Although the election 
is voluntary and no deadline for requesting the additional endorsements 
would be established under this action, interested vessel owners or 
operators would need to notify RAM in writing of their desire to add 
each additional endorsement.

X. Monitoring and Enforcement

    This proposed rule would not change any of the observer 
requirements for the GOA Pacific cod fisheries, found in regulations at 
Sec.  679.50. However, the Council took action in October 2010 to 
restructure the observer program for vessels and processors that are 
determined to need less than 100% observer coverage in the Federal 
fisheries, including sectors of the fishery such as vessels less than 
60' LOA. The goals of the restructured observer program are to improve 
observer data quality, increase equity in the cost and burden of 
carrying an observer among the industry, and increase NMFS' ability to 
be flexible in responding to current and future management needs of 
individual fisheries. The restructured observer program would remove 
observer coverage requirements based on vessel length and processing 
volume and eliminate all exemptions from observer coverage. For 
example, all GOA trawl CVs regardless of length (except those 
participating in the Central GOA rockfish fishery), would participate 
in a restructured program where NMFS contracts with service providers 
to deploy observers in a randomized fashion. Vessels and processors 
included in the restructured program would pay an ex-vessel value-based 
fee on their groundfish and halibut landings to pay for the observer 
coverage. NMFS anticipates implementing the restructured observer 
coverage requirements in either 2013 or 2014, depending on the 
availability of Federal funding for the start-up year.
    The GOA Pacific cod fisheries are managed as a limited access race 
for fish, with fleet-wide TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern 
GOA, as described in more detail in section II of this preamble. If the 
Council's recommendations under Amendment 83 are implemented, the 
monitoring and enforcement of seasonal sector allocations and 
processing caps in the Western and Central GOA will supersede the 
inshore/offshore system. Inseason management of the Pacific cod 
fisheries in the Western and Central GOA would require NMFS to monitor 
catch accruing against 26 seasonal TACs and three processing caps. In 
the Eastern GOA, NMFS would continue to monitor and enforce the two 
annual inshore/offshore allocations of Pacific cod. Furthermore, if 
approved, this action would require NMFS to manage two additional GOA-
wide allocations of hook-and-line halibut PSC limit, which would be 
divided between C/Ps and CVs, and also apportioned seasonally. In order 
to ensure proper catch accounting under the proposed sector 
allocations, NMFS would prohibit deliveries of Pacific cod harvested in 
the GOA to a vessel for processing that is located in a different 
regulatory area.
    To adequately monitor and enforce the community protection 
provisions described in section VIII of this preamble, NMFS would 
require that all vessels receiving deliveries for processing use VMS. 
Currently, VMS requirements apply to CVs and C/Ps that hold an FFP with 
a pollock, Pacific cod, or Atka mackerel species endorsement on their 
FFP, while vessels that solely process fish are not required to hold an 
FFP or use VMS while operating in the GOA. NMFS recognizes that 
monitoring and enforcing the various processing caps and geographic 
restrictions proposed under this action would require additional 
monitoring tools. Proposed requirements that floating processors 
operate within the municipal boundaries of a CQE community may not be 
practicable unless these floating processors are required to use VMS. 
Therefore, NMFS proposes to require that all vessels receiving 
deliveries from other vessels for processing in the Western and Central 
GOA (e.g. Federal reporting areas 610, 620, or 630) have an active VMS 
system while processing groundfish during a directed Pacific cod 
fishery.
    Monitoring and enforcement under Amendment 83 are described in more 
detail in sections 2.2.8 and 2.3.3 of the EA/RIR/IRFA for this action 
(see ADDRESSES).

XI. Summary of Regulatory Changes

    This action proposes the following changes to the existing 
regulatory text at 50 CFR parts 679 and 680:
     Revise references to the inshore/offshore Pacific cod 
fishery in the Western and Central GOA throughout 50 CFR Part 679;
     Modify existing regulations for surrendering and amending 
FFPs at Sec.  679.4;
     Prohibit vessels from participating in the parallel 
fishery unless the vessel has the required FFP and LLP endorsements;
     Add an FPP CQE floating processor endorsement, and a new 
Western and

[[Page 44720]]

Central GOA CV endorsement on LLP licenses at Sec.  679.4;
     Add prohibitions necessary to monitor and enforce 
community protection provisions for processing entities in the Western 
and Central GOA at Sec.  679.7;
     Establish seasonal Pacific cod TAC allocations by sector 
in the Western and Central GOA regulatory areas, at Sec.  679.20;
     Modify existing regulations for assigning halibut PSC 
limit allotments at Sec.  679.21;
     Add regulations to implement operational, vessel length, 
and gear type Pacific cod TAC allocations and reapportionments in the 
Western and Central GOA at Sec.  679.20;
     Modify existing regulations to include new jig seasons and 
remove expired regulations at Sec.  679.23;
     Require VMS on all vessels engaged in mothership activity 
in the Western and Central GOA at Sec.  679.28; and
     Add gear type specifications for non-AFA crab sideboard 
ratios at Sec.  680.22.

Other Proposed Regulatory Amendments

    This rule would remove and reserve unnecessary regulations at Sec.  
679.23(d)(4). This paragraph established directed Pacific cod fishing 
seasons that expired December 31, 2002. One correction would also be 
made to regulations currently at Sec.  679.4(b)(4)(ii)(a) to remove a 
reference ``to the permit holder of record.'' The proposed modification 
would clarify that a surrendered FFP may be reissued to a person other 
than the permit holder of record, should the vessel owner change.

XII. Classification

    Pursuant to sections 304(b) and 305(d) of the MSA, the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the FMP, other provisions of the MSA, and other 
applicable law, subject to further consideration of comments received 
during the public comment period.
    This proposed rule has been determined to not be significant for 
the purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Impact Review (RIR)

    An RIR was prepared to assess all costs and benefits of available 
regulatory alternatives. The RIR considers all quantitative and 
qualitative measures. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS 
(see ADDRESSES). Amendment 83 was chosen based on those measures that 
maximized net benefits to the affected participants in the GOA Pacific 
cod fisheries. Specific aspects of the RIR are discussed below in the 
initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) section.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA)

    An 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 proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis 
for this proposed action are contained at the beginning of this section 
and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble and are not repeated here. A 
summary of the analysis follows. A copy of the complete analysis is 
available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    The SBA has established size criteria for all major industry 
sectors in the United States, including fish harvesting and fish 
processing businesses. A business ``involved in fish harvesting'' is a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated and not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and if 
it has combined annual receipts not in excess of $4.0 million for all 
its affiliated operations worldwide. A seafood processor is a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, not dominant in its 
field of operation (including its affiliates) and employs 500 or fewer 
persons, on a full-time, part-time, temporary, or other basis, at all 
its affiliated operations worldwide. A business involved in both the 
harvesting and processing of seafood products is a small business if it 
meets the $4.0 million criterion for fish harvesting operations. A 
wholesale business servicing the fishing industry is a small business 
if it employs 100 or fewer persons on a full-time, part-time, 
temporary, or other basis, at all its affiliated operations worldwide.

Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by the Proposed 
Action

    The proposed action directly regulates CVs and C/Ps that 
participate in the Pacific cod fisheries in the GOA. The number of 
small entities potentially impacted by the proposed action was 
estimated by calculating 2009 gross earnings for CVs, and 2009 first 
wholesale revenues for C/Ps, from their respective participation in all 
commercial fisheries in and off Alaska. Earnings estimates for 2010 are 
not currently available.
    In 2009, 445 catcher vessels retained Pacific cod in the GOA, 
including vessels that did not participate in the directed Federal 
fisheries, and only had incidental catch of Pacific cod. Forty-five of 
these catcher vessels were either members of AFA cooperatives and, as 
such, are not considered small entities for the purpose of the RFA. The 
remaining 401 catcher vessels are all considered small entities. In 
2009, forty-one catcher processors retained Pacific cod in the GOA, and 
7 of these vessels are estimated to be small entities.
    In addition, five processing entities would be directly regulated 
by this proposed action. A review of processor activity from 2002 
through 2010 revealed that five active processing entities own seven 
stationary floating processors and four motherships that have 
participated in the GOA Pacific cod fisheries. In the absence of 
detailed employment data, size determinations were based on a staff 
review of known ownership information and knowledge of Alaska 
processing firms. On this basis, nine of these vessels are not 
considered small entities for the purpose of the RFA, because they 
appear to be owned by firms that exceed the ``500 or more employees'' 
threshold, when all their affiliates worldwide are included. NMFS 
estimates that two vessels, owned by two different processing entities, 
are small entities.
    It is likely that additional CVs, C/P vessels, or processing 
entities are affiliated through partnerships, or in other ways, with 
other entities, and would be considered large entities for the purpose 
of this action, if more complete ownership information were available.

Duplicate, Overlapping, or Conflicting Federal Rules

    No duplication, overlap, or conflict between this proposed action 
and existing Federal rules has been identified.

Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action That 
Minimize Adverse Impacts on Small Entities

    The Council considered two alternatives for this action, along with 
a suite of ``options'' that could be adopted singularly or in 
combination. Alternative 1 is the no action alternative, in which the 
Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs would not be allocated among 
the various sectors, and the fisheries would continue to be managed as 
a limited access race for fish. Under Alternative 2, the Western and 
Central GOA Pacific cod TACs would be allocated among the various gear 
sectors and operation types. Allocations would be based on retained 
catch history over a series of years during 1995 through 2005, 2000 
through 2006, 2002 through 2007, or 2002

[[Page 44721]]

through 2008, or upon other criteria. The action would have similar 
impacts on small and large entities. Allocations would stabilize 
catches of the sectors. Options to increase the jig sector allocation 
beyond historical catch levels would be advantageous to jig vessels, 
which are among the smallest entities participating in the fisheries. 
The jig allocation allows for potential growth in entry-level 
opportunities in the GOA Pacific cod fisheries. During 1995 through 
2008, the jig sector harvested, on average, less than 1 percent of the 
Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs. This allocation could 
potentially increase to 6 percent of the Western and Central GOA TACs, 
but would not be expected to do so, in the foreseeable future. 
Nonetheless, this provision explicitly recognizes and accommodates the 
special circumstances of the group of small entities.
    The Council considered, but rejected, options to establish separate 
allocations for trawl and hook-and-line C/Ps that have historically 
fished off the inshore TACs. Establishing distinct inshore C/P 
allocations would protect harvests of smaller C/Ps, if combined with a 
provision to limit entry to the inshore processing component. Prior to 
removing the option to create distinct inshore C/P allocations, the 
Council reviewed data that showed that during most years, nearly all C/
Ps less than 125 ft (45.7 m) LOA elected to fish inshore. Therefore, if 
C/P allocations were to be based on vessel length (e.g., vessels less 
than, and vessels greater than 125 ft (45.7 m) LOA, these allocations 
would be nearly identical to allocations based on catch by the inshore 
and offshore processing components. This would not serve the objectives 
for this action.
    The Council considered options to assign mothership processing caps 
as high as 10 percent of the Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs. 
High processing caps would benefit mothership vessels that have 
traditionally processed little Pacific cod in the GOA. From 2002 
through 2008, less than 2 percent of the Western GOA TAC had been 
processed annually by motherships, and no mothership processing 
activity had occurred in the Central GOA. The Council declined to 
increase processing caps above recent participation levels, because 
such a recommendation is inconsistent with the objectives of this 
action and could redistribute catch, imposing greater economic burdens 
on other directly regulated entities with documented dependence (i.e., 
recent catch history) of these resources.
    Based upon the best available scientific data and information, none 
of the alternatives to the proposed action appear would accomplish the 
stated objectives of the MSA and other applicable statutes, while 
minimizing any significant adverse economic impact on small entities, 
beyond those achieved under the proposed rule.

Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

    Implementation of the proposed action would require NMFS to modify 
the catch accounting system to track catch by each sector. However, 
vessels fishing off these allocations will simply have to report their 
catch to through existing information collections and catch will be 
deducted from the appropriate account by the Agency, in accordance with 
the proposed revisions to the catch monitoring and accounting program.

Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This proposed rule contains collection-of-information requirements 
subject to review and approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
(PRA). These requirements have been approved by OMB. The collections 
are listed below by OMB control number.
OMB Control No. 0206
    Public reporting burden per response is estimated to average 21 
minutes for Federal Fisheries Permit application; and 21 minutes for 
Federal Processor Permit application.
OMB Control No. 0213
    Public reporting burden per response is estimated to average 31 
minutes for a Mothership Daily Cumulative Production Logbook.
OMB Control No. 0334
    Endorsements to the License Limitation Program (LLP) license are 
mentioned in this rule; however, the public reporting burden for this 
collection-of-information is not directly affected by this rule.
OMB Control No. 0445
    Public reporting burden is estimated to average 12 minutes for 
Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) check-in report; and 4 hours for VMS 
operation (includes installation, transmission, and maintenance).
OMB Control No. 0515
    Public reporting burden is estimated to average 15 minutes for the 
Interagency Electronic Reporting System (IERS) processor registration; 
35 minutes for eLandings landing report; 10 minutes for shoreside 
eLanding production report; and 20 minutes for at-sea eLanding 
production report;
    Public reporting burden includes the time for reviewing 
instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and 
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden 
estimate, or any other aspect of this data collection, including 
suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and by e-
mail to [email protected], or fax to 202-395-7285.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty 
for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays 
a currently valid OMB Control Number.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Parts 679 and 680

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: July 14, 2011.
John Oliver,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR parts 679 and 680 
are proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 679--FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA

    1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 679 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801  et seq.; 3631 et seq.; 
Pub. L. 108-447.

    2. In Sec.  679.2,
    a. Add definition of ``CQE Floating Processor; and
    b. Revise the definitions of ``Hook-and-line catcher/processor,'' 
``Inshore component in the GOA,'' ``Mothership,'' ``Offshore Component 
in the GOA,'' ``Pot catcher/processor,'' and ``Stationary floating 
processor (SFP)'' to read as follows:


Sec.  679.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    CQE floating processor means, for the purposes of processing 
Pacific cod within the marine municipal boundaries of CQE communities 
(see Table 21 of this part) in the Western or Central Gulf of Alaska 
Federal reporting areas 610, 620, or 630, a vessel not meeting the 
definition of a stationary floating processor in this section, that has 
not harvested groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska in the same calendar 
year, and

[[Page 44722]]

operates on the authority of an FPP endorsed as a CQE floating 
processor.
* * * * *
    Hook-and-line catcher/processor means a catcher/processor vessel 
that is named on a valid LLP license that is noninterim and 
transferable, or that is interim and subsequently becomes noninterim 
and transferable, and that is endorsed for any of the following areas: 
Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and/or any area in the Gulf of Alaska; 
and endorsed for catcher/processor fishing activity, catcher/processor, 
Pacific cod, and hook-and-line gear.
* * * * *
    Inshore component in the GOA means the following three categories 
of the U.S. groundfish fishery that process pollock harvested in the 
GOA or Pacific cod harvested in the Eastern GOA:
    (1) Shoreside processors.
    (2) Vessels less than 125 ft (45.7 m) LOA that hold an inshore 
processing endorsement on their Federal fisheries permit, and that 
process no more than 126 mt per week in round-weight equivalents of an 
aggregate amount of pollock and Eastern GOA Pacific cod.
    (3) Stationary floating processors that--
    (i) Hold an inshore processing endorsement on their Federal 
processor permit;
    (ii) Process pollock harvested in a GOA directed fishery at a 
single GOA geographic location in Alaska state waters during a fishing 
year; and/or,
    (iii) Process Pacific cod harvested in the Eastern GOA regulatory 
area at a single GOA geographic location in Alaska state waters during 
a fishing year.
* * * * *
    Mothership means:
    (1) A vessel that receives and processes groundfish from other 
vessels; or
    (2) With respect to subpart E of this part, a processor vessel that 
receives and processes groundfish from other vessels and is not used 
for, or equipped to be used for, catching groundfish; or
    (3) For the purposes of processing Pacific cod within the marine 
municipal boundaries of CQE communities (as defined in Table 21 to this 
part) in the Western or Central Gulf of Alaska, motherships include 
vessels with a CQE floating processor endorsements on their Federal 
processor permit that receive and process groundfish from other 
vessels.
* * * * *
    Offshore component in the GOA means all vessels not included in the 
definition of ``inshore component in the GOA'' that process pollock 
harvested in the GOA, and/or Pacific cod harvested in the Eastern GOA.
* * * * *
    Pot catcher/processor means a catcher/processor vessel that is 
named on a valid LLP license that is noninterim and transferable, or 
that is interim and subsequently becomes noninterim and transferable, 
and that is endorsed for Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and/or Gulf of 
Alaska catcher/processor fishing activity, catcher/processor, Pacific 
cod, and pot gear.
* * * * *
    Stationary floating processor (SFP) means:
    (1) A vessel of the United States operating as a processor in 
Alaska State waters that remains anchored or otherwise remains 
stationary in a single geographic location while receiving or 
processing groundfish harvested in the GOA or BSAI; and,
    (2) In the Western and Central GOA Federal reporting areas 610, 
620, or 630, a vessel that has not operated as a catcher/processor, CQE 
floating processor, or mothership in the GOA during the same fishing 
year; however, an SFP can operate as catcher/processor or mothership in 
the BSAI and an SFP in the Western and Central GOA during the same 
fishing year
* * * * *
    3. In Sec.  679.4,
    a. Redesignate paragraph (f)(2)(v) as paragraph (f)(2)(vi);
    b. Revise paragraphs (b)(4)(ii), (b)(4)(iii), (b)(5)(iv), (f)(1), 
(f)(2) introductory text, (f)(2)(i), (f)(2)(iii), and newly 
redesignated (f)(2)(vi); and
    c. Add paragraphs (f)(2)(v), (k)(10)(vii), and (k)(10)(viii) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  679.4  Permits.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (ii) Surrendered permit--(A) An FFP permit may be voluntarily 
surrendered in accordance with paragraph (a)(9) of this section. Except 
as provided under paragraph (b)(4)(ii)(B) and (C) of this section, if 
surrendered, an FFP may be reissued in the same fishing year in which 
it was surrendered. Contact NMFS/RAM by telephone, locally at 907-586-
7202 (Option 2) or toll-free at 800-304-4846 (Option 
2).
    (B) In the BSAI, NMFS will not reissue an FFP to the owner of a 
vessel named on an FFP that has been issued with endorsements for 
catcher/processor vessel operation type, pot or hook-and-line gear 
type, and the BSAI area, until after the expiration date of the 
surrendered FFP.
    (C) In the GOA, NMFS will not reissue an FFP to the owner of a 
vessel named on an FFP that has been issued a GOA area endorsement and 
any combination of endorsements for catcher/processor operation type, 
catcher vessel operation type, trawl gear type, hook-and-line gear 
type, pot gear type, or jig gear type until after the expiration date 
of the surrendered FFP.
    (iii) Amended permit--(A) An owner, who applied for and received an 
FFP, must notify NMFS of any change in the permit information by 
submitting an FFP application found at the NMFS Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The owner must submit the application as 
instructed on the application form. Except as provided under paragraph 
(b)(4)(iii)(B) and (C) of this section, upon receipt and approval of a 
permit amendment, the Program Administrator, RAM, will issue an amended 
FFP.
    (B) In the BSAI, NMFS will not approve an application to amend an 
FFP to remove a catcher/processor vessel operation endorsement, pot 
gear type endorsement, hook-and-line gear type endorsement, or BSAI 
area endorsement from an FFP that has been issued with endorsements for 
catcher/processor operation type, pot or hook-and-line gear type, and 
the BSAI area.
    (C) In the GOA, NMFS will not approve an application to amend an 
FFP to remove endorsements for catcher/processor operation type, 
catcher vessel operation type, trawl gear type, hook-and-line gear 
type, pot gear type, or jig gear type, and the GOA area.
    (D) In the GOA, an FFP holder can amend an FFP to remove specific 
Pacific cod gear type endorsement(s) at any time during the 3-year term 
of the permit without surrendering the FFP.
    (5) * * *
    (iv) Area and gear information. Indicate the type of vessel 
operation. If catcher/processor or catcher vessel, indicate only the 
gear types used for groundfish fishing. If the vessel is a catcher/
processor under 125 ft (45.7 m) LOA that is intended to process GOA 
inshore pollock or Pacific cod harvested in the inshore component of 
the Eastern GOA, mark the box for a GOA inshore processing endorsement.
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (1) Requirement. No shoreside processor of the United States, 
stationary floating processor, or CQE floating processor described at 
(f)(2) of this section may receive or process groundfish harvested in 
the GOA or BSAI, unless the owner first obtains a Federal processor 
permit issued under

[[Page 44723]]

this part. A Federal processor permit is issued without charge.
    (2) Contents of an FPP application. To obtain an FPP, the owner 
must complete an FPP application and provide the following information 
(see paragraphs (f)(2)(i) through (vi) of this section) for each SFP, 
shoreside processor plant, and CQE floating processor to be permitted:
    (i) New or amended permit. Indicate whether application is for a 
new or amended FPP; and if an amended permit, provide the current FPP 
number. Indicate whether application is for a shoreside processor, an 
SFP, or a CQE floating processor.
* * * * *
    (iii) SFP information. Indicate the vessel name; whether this is a 
vessel of the United States; USCG documentation number; ADF&G vessel 
registration number; ADF&G processor code; the vessel's LOA (ft); 
registered length (ft); gross tonnage; net tonnage; shaft horsepower; 
home port (city and state); and whether choosing to receive a GOA 
inshore processing endorsement. A GOA inshore processing endorsement is 
required in order to process GOA inshore pollock and Eastern GOA 
inshore Pacific cod.
* * * * *
    (v) CQE floating processor information--(A) A vessel owner that 
applies to process groundfish harvested by another vessel within the 
marine municipal boundaries of a Western GOA or Central GOA CQE 
community (as defined in Table 21 to this part) under the authority of 
an FPP CQE floating processor endorsement must indicate: the vessel 
name; whether this is a vessel of the United States; USCG documentation 
number; ADF&G vessel registration number; ADF&G processor code; 
vessel's LOA (ft); registered length (ft); gross tonnage; net tonnage; 
shaft horsepower; home port (city and state); and whether choosing to 
receive a GOA inshore processing endorsement.
    (B) The owner of the vessel must indicate if they harvested 
groundfish in the GOA or acted as an SFP in the GOA during the current 
calendar year.
    (C) The owner of the vessel must indicate if they hold an FFP or an 
SFP endorsement on their FFP for the same vessel.
    (vi) Signature. The owner or agent of the owner of the shoreside 
processor, SFP, or CQE floating processor must sign and date the 
application. If the owner is a company, the agent of the owner must 
sign and date the application.
* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (10) * * *
    (vii) Additional endorsements for groundfish license holders 
eligible to participate in the Western and/or Central GOA Pacific cod 
fisheries--(A) Requirements. A license limitation groundfish license 
holder can elect to permanently add a catcher vessel endorsement for 
the Western and/or Central GOA if the license holder--
    (1) Is operating under the authority of a groundfish license 
endorsed for Pacific cod in Western and Central GOA, as described at 
paragraphs (k)(4)(vi) or (k)(10)(ii) of this section;
    (2) Is endorsed to participate as a catcher/processor in the 
Western and/or Central GOA Pacific cod fishery; and,
    (3) Made a minimum of one Pacific cod landing while operating as a 
catcher vessel under the authority of the catcher/processor license in 
Federal reporting areas 610, 620, or 630, from January 1, 2002, through 
December 31, 2008.
    (4) Or, is the holder of a license limitation groundfish license 
endorsed for trawl gear Western and/or Central GOA and made a minimum 
of one Pacific cod landing while operating as a catcher vessel under 
the authority of the catcher/processor license in Federal reporting 
areas 610, 620, or 630, from January 1, 2002 through December 31, 2008.
    (B) Additional Central GOA and/or Western GOA catcher vessel 
endorsement. Any Holder of an LLP license that has a catcher vessel 
endorsement for the Western and/or Central GOA under paragraph 
(k)(10)(vii) of this section--
    (1) Is prohibited, at Sec.  679.7(k)(1)(iv)(B), from catching and 
processing Pacific cod onboard a vessel under the authority of that 
groundfish license in the directed Pacific cod fishery in the Western 
or Central GOA Federal reporting areas 610, 620, or 630;
    (2) Will have all directed catch of Pacific cod harvested under the 
authority of that groundfish license accrue against the respective GOA 
regulatory area catcher vessel allocations; and,
    (3) Will have all incidental catch of Pacific cod in the Western 
GOA or Central GOA Federal reporting areas 610, 620, or 630, harvested 
under the authority of that groundfish license accrue against the 
respective GOA regulatory area catcher vessel allocations.
    (C) Eligible license holders not electing to add catcher vessel 
endorsement(s). Any holder of an LLP license that does not have a 
catcher vessel endorsement for the Western and/or Central GOA under 
paragraph (k)(10)(vii) of this section may participate in the Western 
GOA or Central GOA directed Pacific cod fishery as a catcher/processor 
or a catcher vessel; however, direct and incidental catch of Pacific 
cod in the Western GOA and Central GOA will accrue against the 
respective catcher/processor allocation.
    (D) Multiple or stacked LLP licenses. A vessel that does not meet 
the requirements at paragraph (k)(10)(vii) of this section but does 
have multiple, stacked, LLP licenses and one of those stacked licenses 
is endorsed as a catcher/processor eligible to harvest Pacific cod in 
the Western GOA or Central GOA Federal reporting areas 610, 620, or 
630, all catch will accrue against the catcher/processor sector 
allocation for that gear type.
    (E) Catch history. NMFS will assign legal landings to each 
groundfish license for an area based only on information contained in 
the official record as described in paragraph (k)(10)(viii) of this 
section.
    (viii) Catcher/processor participation in the Western GOA and 
Central GOA official record--(A) The official record will contain all 
information used by the Regional Administrator to determine the 
following:
    (1) The number and amount of legal landings made under the 
authority of that license by gear type, and operational mode;
    (2) All other relevant information necessary to administer the 
requirements described in paragraphs (k)(10)(vii)(A)(1) through 
(k)(10)(vii)(A)(3) of this section.
    (B) The official record is presumed to be correct. A groundfish 
license holder has the burden to prove otherwise.
    (C) For the purposes of creating the official record, the Regional 
Administrator will presume if more than one person is claiming the same 
legal landing, then each groundfish license for which the legal landing 
is being claimed will be credited with the legal landing;
    (D) Only legal landings as defined in Sec.  679.2 and documented on 
State of Alaska Fish Tickets or NMFS weekly production reports will be 
used to assign legal landings to a groundfish license.
    (E) The Regional Administrator will specify by letter a 30-day 
evidentiary period during which an applicant may provide additional 
information or evidence to amend or challenge the information in the 
official record. A person will be limited to one 30-day evidentiary 
period. Additional information or evidence received after the 30-day 
evidentiary period specified

[[Page 44724]]

in the letter has expired will not be considered for purposes of the 
initial administrative determination.
    (F) The Regional Administrator will prepare and send an IAD to the 
applicant following the expiration of the 30-day evidentiary period if 
the Regional Administrator determines that the information or evidence 
provided by the person fails to support the person's claims and is 
insufficient to rebut the presumption that the official record is 
correct, or if the additional information, evidence, or revised 
application is not provided within the time period specified in the 
letter that notifies the applicant of his or her 30-day evidentiary 
period. The IAD will indicate the deficiencies with the information, or 
the evidence submitted in support of the information. The IAD will also 
indicate which claims cannot be approved based on the available 
information or evidence. A person who receives an IAD may appeal 
pursuant to Sec.  679.43. A person who avails himself or herself of the 
opportunity to appeal an IAD will receive a non-transferable license 
pending the final resolution of that appeal, notwithstanding the 
eligibility of that applicant for some claims based on consistent 
information in the official record.
* * * * *
    4. In Sec.  679.5,
    a. Revise paragraphs (c)(6)(i), (c)(6)(v)(C), (e)(3)(iv)(B), (e)(6) 
introductory text, (e)(6)(i) introductory text, (e)(10)(ii), and 
(e)(10)(iii) introductory text; and
    b. Add paragraph (e)(6)(i)(A)(12) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.5  Recordkeeping and reporting (R&R).

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (6) Mothership DCPL --(i) Responsibility. Except as described in 
paragraph (f)(1)(v) of this section, the operator of a mothership that 
is required to have an FFP under Sec.  679.4(b), or the operator of a 
CQE floating processor that receives or processes any groundfish from 
the GOA or BSAI from vessels issued an FFP under Sec.  679.4(b) is 
required to use a combination of mothership DCPL and eLandings to 
record and report daily processor identification information, delivery 
information, groundfish production data, and groundfish and prohibited 
species discard or disposition data. The operator must enter into the 
DCPL any information for groundfish received from catcher vessels, 
groundfish received from processors for reprocessing or rehandling, and 
groundfish received from an associated buying station documented on a 
BSR.
* * * * *
    (v) * * *
    (C) Vessel information. Name of mothership, or CQE floating 
processor as displayed in official documentation, FFP or FPP number, 
and ADF&G processor code.
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iv) * * *
    (B) Groundfish catcher/processor, mothership or CQE floating 
processor. If a groundfish catcher/processor or mothership, enter the 
FFP number; if a CQE floating processor, enter FPP number.
* * * * *
    (6) Mothership landings report. The operator of a mothership that 
is issued an FFP under Sec.  679.4(b) or a CQE floating processor that 
receives groundfish from catcher vessels required to have an FFP under 
Sec.  679.4 is required to use eLandings or other NMFS-approved 
software to submit a daily landings report during the fishing year to 
report processor identification information and the following 
information under paragraphs (e)(6)(i) through (iii) of this section:
    (i) Information entered for each groundfish delivery to a 
mothership. The User for a mothership must enter the following 
information (see paragraphs (e)(6)(i)(A)(1) through (12) of this 
section) provided by the operator of a catcher vessel, operator or 
manager of an associated buying station, or information received from 
processors for reprocessing or rehandling product.
    (A) * * *
    (12) Receiving deliveries of groundfish in the marine municipal 
boundaries of a CQE community listed in Table 21 to this part.
* * * * *
    (10) * * *
    (ii) Mothership. The operator of a mothership that is issued an FFP 
under Sec.  679.4, or the operator of a CQE floating processor that 
receives groundfish is required to use eLandings or other NMFS-approved 
software to submit a production report to record and report daily 
processor identification information, groundfish production data, and 
groundfish and prohibited species discard or disposition data.
    (iii) Contents. eLandings autofills the following fields when 
creating a production report for a catcher/processor or mothership: FFP 
or FPP number, company name, ADF&G processor code, User name, e-mail 
address, and telephone number. The User must review the autofilled 
cells to ensure that they are accurate for the current report. In 
addition, the User for the catcher/processor or mothership must enter 
the information in paragraphs (e)(10)(iii)(A) through (N) of this 
section.
* * * * *
    5. In Sec.  679.7,
    a. Revise paragraphs (a)(7)(vi), (viii) and (ix), (a)(15), and 
(k)(1)(iv); and
    b. Add paragraphs (b)(4), (b)(5), (b)(6), (b)(7), and (k)(2)(ii) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  679.7  Prohibitions.

    (a) * * *
    (7) * * *
    (vi) Except as provided in paragraph (k)(3)(iv) of this section, 
use a stationary floating processor with a GOA inshore processing 
endorsement to process pollock harvested in the GOA or Pacific cod 
harvested in the Eastern GOA in a directed fishery for those species in 
more than one single geographic location in the GOA during a fishing 
year.
* * * * *
    (viii) Use a vessel operating under the authority of a groundfish 
license with a Pacific cod endorsement to directed fish for Pacific cod 
in the Eastern GOA apportioned to the inshore component of the GOA as 
specified under Sec.  679.20(a)(6) if that vessel has directed fished 
for Pacific cod in the Eastern GOA apportioned to the offshore 
component of the Eastern GOA during that calendar year.
    (ix) Use a vessel operating under the authority of a groundfish 
license with a Pacific cod endorsement to directed fish for Pacific cod 
in the Eastern GOA apportioned to the offshore component of the Eastern 
GOA as specified under Sec.  679.20(a)(6) if that vessel has directed 
fished for Pacific cod in the Eastern GOA apportioned to the inshore 
component of the GOA during that calendar year.
* * * * *
    (15) Federal processor permit--(i) Receive, purchase or arrange for 
purchase, discard, or process groundfish harvested in the GOA or BSAI 
by a shoreside processor or SFP and in the Western and Central GOA 
regulatory areas, including Federal reporting areas 610, 620, and 630, 
a CQE floating processor, that does not have on site a valid Federal 
processor permit issued pursuant to Sec.  679.4(f).
    (ii) Receive, purchase or arrange for purchase, discard, or process 
groundfish harvested in the GOA by a CQE floating processor that does 
not have on site a valid Federal processor permit issued pursuant to 
Sec.  679.4(f).
* * * * *

[[Page 44725]]

    (b) * * *
    (4) Catcher vessel restrictions--(i) Deliver Pacific cod harvested 
in the Western GOA or Central GOA regulatory area including Federal 
reporting areas 610, 620, or 630, to a vessel for processing in a GOA 
regulatory area other than the area in which the harvest occurred.
    (ii) Deliver Pacific cod harvested in the Western GOA or Central 
GOA regulatory area, including Federal reporting areas 610, 620, or 
630, to another vessel for processing unless the processing vessel 
carries an operable NMFS-approved Vessel Monitoring System that 
complies with the requirements in Sec.  679.28(f).
    (iii) Deliver Pacific cod harvested in the Western GOA or adjacent 
waters parallel directed fishery to a vessel for processing in excess 
of the processing limits established at Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(iv) or (v), 
unless the processing vessel meets the definition of a stationary 
floating processor at Sec.  679.2.
    (iv) Deliver Pacific cod harvested in the Central GOA or adjacent 
waters parallel directed fishery in excess of the processing limits 
established at Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(v), unless the processing vessel 
meets the definition of a stationary floating processor at Sec.  679.2.
    (v) Deliver Pacific cod harvested in the Central GOA or adjacent 
waters parallel directed fishery to a vessel for processing, unless 
that vessel is endorsed as a CQE floating processor or stationary 
floating processor.
    (5) Stationary floating processor restrictions--(i) Except as 
provided in paragraph (k)(3)(iv) of this section, to use a stationary 
floating processor to process Pacific cod at more than one single 
geographic location in the GOA during a fishing year if the Pacific cod 
was harvested in a Western or Central GOA directed fishery within 
Federal reporting areas 610, 620, or 630.
    (ii) Operate as a stationary floating processor and as a catcher/
processor during the same calendar year in the GOA.
    (iii) Operate as a stationary floating processor and as a CQE 
floating processor or mothership during the same calendar year in the 
GOA.
    (6) Parallel fisheries. Use a vessel designated or required to be 
designated on an FFP to catch and process Pacific cod from waters 
adjacent to the GOA when Pacific cod caught by that vessel is deducted 
from the Federal TAC specified under Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A)(2) 
through (6) of this part for the Western GOA and Sec.  
679.20(a)(12)(i)(B)(2) through (7) of this part for the Central GOA 
unless:
    (i) That non-trawl vessel is designated on both:
    (A) An LLP license issued under Sec.  679.4(k) of this part, unless 
that vessel is using jig gear and exempt from the LLP license 
requirement under Sec.  679.4(k)(2)(iii) of this part. Each vessel 
required to have an LLP license must be designated with the following 
endorsements:
    (1) The GOA area designation adjacent to the parallel waters 
fishery where the harvest occurred; and
    (2) A Pacific cod endorsement.
    (B) An FFP issued under Sec.  679.4(b) of this part with the 
following endorsements:
    (1) The GOA area designation;
    (2) An operational type designation;
    (3) A gear type endorsement; and
    (4) A Pacific cod gear type endorsement.
    (ii) Or, that trawl vessel is designated on both:
    (A) An LLP license issued under Sec.  679.4(k) of this part 
endorsed for trawl gear with the GOA area designation adjacent to the 
parallel waters fishery where the harvest occurred, and
    (B) An FFP issued under Sec.  679.4(b) of this part with the 
following endorsements:
    (1) The GOA area designation;
    (2) An operational type designation;
    (3) A trawl gear type endorsement; and
    (4) A Pacific cod gear type endorsement.
    (7) Parallel fishery closures. Use a vessel designated or required 
to be designated on an FFP to catch Pacific cod and retain from waters 
adjacent to the GOA when Pacific cod caught by that vessel is deducted 
from the Federal TAC specified under Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A)(2) 
through (6) of this part for the Western GOA and Sec.  
679.20(a)(12)(i)(B)(2) through (7) of this part for the Central GOA if 
directed fishing for Pacific cod is not open.
* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iv) Processing GOA groundfish--(A) Use a listed AFA catcher/
processor to process any pollock harvested in a directed pollock 
fishery in the GOA and any groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 
of the GOA.
    (B) Use a listed AFA catcher/processor as a stationary floating 
processor for Pacific cod in the GOA and a catcher/processor during the 
same year.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) Processing GOA groundfish. Use a listed AFA mothership as a 
stationary floating processor for Pacific cod in the GOA and a 
mothership during the same year.
* * * * *
    6. In Sec.  679.20,
    a. Revise paragraphs (a)(6)(ii), (a)(12), (b)(2)(ii), (c)(4)(ii); 
and
    b. Add paragraphs (c)(4)(iii) and (c)(7) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.20  General limitations.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (6) * * *
    (ii) Eastern GOA Regulatory Area Pacific cod. The apportionment of 
Pacific cod in the Eastern GOA Regulatory Area will be allocated 90 
percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the inshore 
component and 10 percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for 
processing by the offshore component.
* * * * *
    (12) GOA Pacific cod TAC --(i) Seasonal allowances by sector. The 
Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs will be seasonally apportioned 
to each sector such that: 60 percent of the TAC is apportioned to the A 
season and 40 percent of the TAC is apportioned to the B season, as 
specified in Sec.  679.23(d)(3).
    (A) Western GOA Regulatory Area--Jig sector. A portion of the 
annual Pacific cod TAC will be allocated to vessels with an FFP that 
use jig gear, as determined in the annual harvest specification under 
paragraph (c)(7) of this section, before TAC is apportioned among other 
non-jig sectors. Other Pacific cod sector allowances are apportioned 
after allocation to the jig sector based on gear type and operation 
type as follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                        Seasonal allowances
              Sector                      Gear type            Operation type    -------------------------------
                                                                                     A season        B season
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1)...............................  Hook-and-Line........  Catcher vessel.......           0.70%           0.70%
(2)...............................  Hook-and-Line........  Catcher/Processor....          10.90%           8.90%
(3)...............................  Trawl................  Catcher vessel.......          27.70%          10.70%

[[Page 44726]]

 
(4)...............................  Trawl................  Catcher/Processor....           0.90%           1.50%
(5)...............................  Pot..................  Catcher Vessel and             19.80%          18.20%
                                                            Catcher/Processor.
(6)...............................  Nontrawl.............  Any..................           0.00%           0.00%
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     (B) Central GOA Regulatory Area--Jig sector. A portion of the 
annual Pacific cod TAC will be allocated to vessels with an FFP that 
use jig gear, as determined in the annual harvest specification under 
paragraph (c)(7) of this section, before TAC is apportioned among other 
non-jig sectors. Other Pacific cod sector allowances are apportioned 
after allocation to the jig sector based on gear type, operation type, 
and length overall as follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       Length           Seasonal allowances
            Sector                 Gear type      Operation type     overall in  -------------------------------
                                                                        feet         A season        B season
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1)..........................  Hook-and-Line...  Catcher vessel..  <50..........        9.31552%        5.28678%
(2)..........................  Hook-and-Line...  Catcher vessel..  >=50.........        5.60935%        1.09726%
(3)..........................  Hook-and-Line...  Catcher/          Any..........        4.10684%        0.99751%
                                                  Processor.
(4)..........................  Trawl...........  Catcher vessel..  Any..........       21.13523%       20.44888%
(5)..........................  Trawl...........  Catcher/          Any..........        2.00334%        2.19451%
                                                  Processor.
(6)..........................  Pot.............  Catcher Vessel    Any..........       17.82972%        9.97506%
                                                  and Catcher/
                                                  Processor.
(7)..........................  Nontrawl........  Any.............  Any..........           0.00%           0.00%
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     (ii) Reapportionment of TAC--(A) The Regional Administrator may 
apply any underage or overage of Pacific cod harvest by each sector 
from one season to the subsequent season. In adding or subtracting any 
underages or overages to the subsequent season, the Regional 
Administrator shall consider the incidental catch and any catch in the 
directed fishery by each sector.
    (B) Any portion of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector 
allocations determined by the Regional Administrator to remain 
unharvested during the remainder of the fishery year will be added to 
the catcher vessel sectors first. The Regional Administrator shall 
consider the capability of gear groups and sectors to harvest the 
reallocated amount of Pacific cod when reapportioning Pacific cod to 
other sectors.
    (iii) Catch accounting--(A) Incidental Pacific cod harvested 
between the closure of the A season and opening of the B season shall 
be deducted from the B season TAC apportionment for that sector.
    (B) Each license holder that is assigned an LLP license with a 
catcher/processor operation type endorsement that is not assigned a 
catcher vessel operation type endorsement under the provisions at Sec.  
679.4(k)(10)(vii)(A) and (B) shall have all incidental and direct catch 
of Pacific cod deducted from the catcher/processor sector allocation 
and gear type designation corresponding to the gear used by that 
vessel.
    (C) Holders of catcher/processor licenses assigned a Western GOA CV 
endorsement, under the provisions at Sec.  679.4(k)(10)(vii)(A) and 
(B), shall have all incidental and direct catch of Pacific cod in the 
Western GOA deducted from the CV sector's allocation and gear type 
designation corresponding the gear used by that vessel in the Western 
GOA.
    (D) Holders of C/P licenses eligible to, and electing to receive a 
Central CV endorsement, under the provisions at Sec.  
679.4(k)(10)(vii)(A) and (B), shall have all incidental and direct 
catch of Pacific cod in the Central GOA deducted from the CV sector's 
allocation and gear type designation corresponding the gear used by 
that vessel in the Central GOA.
    (E) NMFS shall determine the length overall of a vessel operating 
in the Central GOA based on the length overall designated on the FFP 
assigned to that vessel.
    (iv) Processing caps for FFP licensed vessels. In the Western GOA, 
no more than 2 percent of the total Pacific cod TAC allocated to the 
Western GOA regulatory area can be delivered for processing to vessels 
operating under the authority of an FFP.
    (v) Processing caps for FPP licensed vessel operating as CQE 
floating processors. Harvesting vessels may deliver Pacific cod 
harvested in the directed Pacific cod TAC fishery, if the processing 
vessel receiving the Pacific cod--
    (A) Does not meet the definition of a stationary floating processor 
at Sec.  679.2;
    (B) Is operating under the authority of an FPP license endorsed as 
a CQE floating processor;
    (C) Is located within the marine municipal boundaries of a CQE 
community in the State waters adjacent to the Central or Western GOA as 
described in Table 21 to this part; and
    (D) The total amount of Pacific cod received or processed by all 
CQE floating processors does not exceed--
    (1) 3 percent of the total Western GOA Pacific cod TAC; or
    (2) 3 percent of the total Central GOA Pacific cod TAC.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) Pacific cod reapportionment. Any amounts of the GOA reserve 
that are reapportioned to the GOA Pacific cod fishery as provided by 
paragraph (b) of this section must be apportioned in the same 
proportion specified in paragraphs (a)(6)(ii) and (a)(12)(i) of this 
section.
* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (ii) GOA pollock. The annual harvest specifications will specify 
the allocation of GOA pollock for processing by the inshore component 
in the GOA and the offshore component in the GOA, and any seasonal 
allowances thereof, as authorized under paragraphs (a)(5) and (a)(6) of 
this section.
    (iii) Eastern GOA Pacific cod. The annual harvest specifications 
will specify the allocation of Eastern GOA Pacific cod for processing 
by the inshore component and the offshore component, and any seasonal 
allowances thereof, as authorized under paragraph (a)(6) of this 
section.
* * * * *
    (7) Western and Central GOA Pacific cod allocations. The proposed 
and final harvest specifications will specify the allocation of GOA 
Pacific cod among gear types and any seasonal allowances

[[Page 44727]]

thereof, as authorized under paragraph (a)(12) of this section.
* * * * *
    7. In Sec.  679.21,
    a. Remove paragraph (d)(4)(iii)(B);
    b. Redesignate paragraph (d)(4)(iii)(C) as paragraph 
(d)(4)(iii)(B); and
    c. Revise newly redesignated paragraph (d)(4)(iii)(B), and 
paragraphs (d)(5)(iv) and (d)(7)(ii), to read as follows:


Sec.  679.21  Prohibited species bycatch management.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (B) Other hook-and-line fishery. Fishing with hook-and-line gear 
during any weekly reporting period that results in a retained catch of 
groundfish and is not a demersal shelf rockfish fishery defined under 
paragraph (d)(4)(iii)(A) of this section, as follows--
    (1) Catcher vessels using hook-and-line gear will be apportioned 
part of the GOA halibut PSC limit in proportion to the total Western 
and Central GOA Pacific cod allocations, where X is equal to annual 
TAC, as follows--
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP26JY11.003

    (2) Catcher/processors using hook-and-line gear will be apportioned 
part of the GOA halibut PSC limit in proportion to the total Western 
and Central GOA Pacific cod allocations, where X is equal to annual 
TAC, as follows--
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP26JY11.004

    (3) No later than November 1, any halibut PSC limit allocated under 
paragraph (d)(4)(iii)(B) of this section not projected by the Regional 
Administrator to be used by one of the hook-and-line sectors during the 
remainder of the fishing year will be made available to the other 
sector.
    (5) * * *
    (iv) Seasonal apportionment exceeded. If a seasonal apportionment 
of a halibut PSC limit specified for trawl, hook-and-line, pot gear, 
and/or operational type is exceeded, the amount by which the seasonal 
apportionment is exceeded will be deducted from the respective 
apportionment for the next season during a current fishing year.
* * * * *
    (7) * * *
    (ii) Hook-and-line fisheries. If, during the fishing year, the 
Regional Administrator determines that U.S. fishing vessels 
participating in any of the three hook-and-line gear and operational 
type fishery categories listed under paragraph (d)(4)(iii) of this 
section will catch the halibut bycatch allowance, or apportionments 
thereof, specified for that fishery category under paragraph (d)(1) of 
this section, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register 
closing the entire GOA or the applicable regulatory area, district, or 
operation type to directed fishing with hook-and-line gear for each 
species and/or species group that comprises that fishing category.
* * * * *
    8. In Sec.  679.23,
    a. Remove and reserve paragraph (d)(4);
    b. Revise paragraph (d)(3)(i) introductory text; and
    c. Add paragraph (d)(3)(iii) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.23  Seasons.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) Hook-and-line or pot gear. Subject to other provisions of this 
part, directed fishing for Pacific cod with hook-and-line or pot gear 
in the Western and Central GOA Regulatory Areas is authorized only 
during the following two seasons:
* * * * *
    (iii) Jig gear. Subject to other provisions of this part, directed 
fishing for Pacific cod with jig gear in the Western and Central GOA 
Regulatory Areas is authorized only during the following two seasons:
    (A) A season. From 0001 hours, A.l.t., January 1 through 1200 
hours, A.l.t., June 10 or when the jig A season allocation is reached, 
whichever occurs first;
    (B) B season. From 1200 hours, A.l.t., June 10 through 2400 hours, 
A.l.t., December 31 or when the jig B season allocation is reached, 
whichever occurs first.
    (4) [Reserved]
* * * * *
    9. In Sec.  679.28,
    a. Revise paragraphs (f)(6)(iii) and (f)(6)(iv); and
    b. Add paragraph (f)(6)(v) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.28  Equipment and operational requirements.

* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (6) * * *
    (iii) You operate a vessel required to be Federally permitted with 
non-pelagic trawl or dredge gear onboard in reporting areas located in 
the GOA or operate a Federally permitted vessel with non-pelagic trawl 
or dredge gear onboard in adjacent State waters;
    (iv) When that vessel is required to use functioning VMS equipment 
in the Rockfish Program as described in Sec.  679.7(n)(3); or
    (v) You operate a vessel in Federal reporting areas 610, 620, or 
630, and receive and process groundfish from other vessels.
* * * * *

PART 680--SHELLFISH FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF 
ALASKA

    10. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 680 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1862; Pub. L. 109-241; Pub. L. 109-479.

    11. In Sec.  680.22, revise paragraph (d) introductory text to read 
as follows:


Sec.  680.22  Sideboard protections for GOA groundfish fisheries.

* * * * *
    (d) Determination of GOA groundfish sideboard ratios. Sideboard 
ratios for each GOA groundfish species other than fixed-gear sablefish, 
species group, season, gear type, and area, for which annual 
specifications are made, are

[[Page 44728]]

established according to the following formulas:
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2011-18317 Filed 7-25-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P