[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 221 (Monday, November 16, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 73002-73003]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-25229]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 200610-0156; RTID 0648-XA570]

Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2020 Tribal Fishery Allocations for 
Pacific Whiting; Reapportionment Between Tribal and Non-Tribal Sectors

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

ACTION: Inseason reapportionment of tribal Pacific whiting allocation.


SUMMARY: This document announces the reapportionment of 40,000 metric 
tons of Pacific whiting from the tribal allocation to the non-tribal 
commercial fishery sectors via automatic action on September 16, 2020. 
This reapportionment is to allow full utilization of the Pacific 
whiting resource.

DATES: The reapportionment of Pacific whiting went into effect at 12 
p.m. local time, September 16, 2020, and is effective through December 
31, 2020. Comments will be accepted through December 1, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2020-0027 
by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0027. Click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete 
the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Barry A. Thom, Regional Administrator, West Coast 
Region, NMFS, 1201 NE Lloyd Center Blvd., Suite #1100, Portland, OR 
97232, Attn: Stacey Miller.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, 
address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise 
sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be 
publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' 
in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to 
electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe 
PDF file formats only.

Electronic Access

    This notice is accessible online at the Office of the Federal 
Register's website at https://www.federalregister.gov/. Background 
information and documents are available at the NMFS West Coast Region 
website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/pacific-whiting#management.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stacey Miller (West Coast Region, 
NMFS), phone: 503-231-6290 or email: [email protected].



Pacific Whiting

    Pacific whiting (Merluccius productus) is a very productive species 
with highly variable recruitment (the biomass of fish that mature and 
enter the fishery each year) and a relatively short life span compared 
to other groundfish species. Pacific whiting has the largest annual 
allowable harvest levels (by volume) of the more than 90 groundfish 
species managed under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management 
Plan (FMP), which governs the groundfish fishery off Washington, 
Oregon, and California. The coastwide Pacific whiting stock is managed 
jointly by the United States and Canada, and mature Pacific whiting are 
commonly available to vessels operating in U.S. waters from April 
through December. Background on the stock assessment, and the 
establishment of the 2020 Total Allowable Catch (TAC), for Pacific 
whiting was provided in the final rule for the 2020 Pacific whiting 
harvest specifications, published June 18, 2020 (85 FR 36803). Pacific 
whiting is allocated to the Pacific Coast treaty tribes (tribal 
fishery) and to three non-tribal commercial sectors: The catcher/
processor cooperative (C/P Coop), the mothership cooperative (MS Coop), 
and the Shorebased Individual Fishery Quota (IFQ) Program.
    This notice announces the reapportionment of 40,000 metric tons 
(mt) of Pacific whiting from the tribal allocation to the non-tribal 
commercial sectors on September 16, 2020. Regulations at 50 CFR 
660.131(h) contain provisions that allow the Regional Administrator to 
reapportion Pacific whiting from the tribal allocation, specified at 50 
CFR 660.50, that will not be harvested by the end of the fishing year 
to other sectors.

[[Page 73003]]

Pacific Whiting Reapportionment

    For 2020, the Pacific Coast treaty tribes were allocated 74,342 mt 
of Pacific whiting. The best available information on September 16, 
2020, indicated that at least 40,000 mt of the tribal allocation would 
not be harvested by December 31, 2020. As required under the 2017 
Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) biological opinion on the 
effects of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan on 
listed salmonids, NMFS considered the number and bycatch rate of 
Chinook salmon taken by the Pacific whiting fishery sectors prior to 
reapportionment. Based on the best available information in early 
September 2020, NMFS determined there was little risk that the 
reapportionment would cause the Pacific whiting sector fisheries to 
exceed the guideline limit of 11,000 Chinook salmon under current 
regulations and practices. In early September, incidental take of 
Chinook salmon by the non-tribal sector was 15 percent of the guideline 
limit. While the incidental take of Chinook salmon was higher compared 
to the same period in the previous year, the total take this year is 
still well below the guideline limit.
    To allow for increased utilization of the resource, on September 
16, 2020, NMFS reapportioned 40,000 mt from the Tribal sector to the 
Shorebased IFQ Program, C/P Coop, and MS Coop in proportion to each 
sector's original allocation. Reapportioning this amount is expected to 
allow for greater attainment of the TAC while not limiting tribal 
harvest opportunities for the remainder of the year. NMFS provided 
notice of the reapportionment on September 16, 2020, via emails sent 
directly to fishing businesses and individuals. Reapportionment was 
effective the same day as the notice.
    The amounts of Pacific whiting available for 2020 before and after 
the reapportionment are described in the table below.

                Table 1--2020 Pacific Whiting Allocations
                                           Initial 2020     Final 2020
                 Sector                     allocation      allocation
                                               (mt)            (mt)
Tribal..................................          74,342          34,342
C/P Coop................................         118,649         132,249
MS Coop.................................          83,752          93,352
Shorebased IFQ Program..................         146,567         163,367


    NOAA's Assistant Administrator for Fisheries (AA) finds that good 
cause exists for this notification to be issued without affording prior 
notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(B), because such notification would be impracticable and 
contrary to the public interest. As previously noted, NMFS provided 
actual notice of the reapportionment to fishery participants at the 
time of the action. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on 
this reapportionment was impracticable because NMFS had insufficient 
time to provide prior notice between the time the information about the 
progress of the fishery needed to make this determination became 
available and the time at which fishery modifications had to be 
implemented in order to allow fishery participants access to the 
available fish during the remainder of the fishing season. For the same 
reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness for these actions, required under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).
    These actions are authorized by Sec. Sec.  660.55(i), 660.60(d) and 
660.131(h) and are exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq.

    Dated: November 10, 2020.
Jennifer M. Wallace,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-25229 Filed 11-13-20; 8:45 am]