[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 222 (Monday, November 22, 2021)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 66218-66219]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-25369]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 210616-0131; RTID 0648-XB564]

Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2021 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 34,645 metric 
tons of Pacific whiting from the tribal allocation to the non-tribal 
commercial fishery sectors via automatic action on September 15, 2021. 
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 15, 2021, and is effective through December 
31, 2021. Comments will be accepted through December 7, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2021-0112 
by any of the following methods:
    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via 
the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and 
enter NOAA-NMFS-2021-0112 in the Search box. Click on the ``Comment'' 
icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
    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).

Electronic Access

    This document is accessible online at the Office of the Federal 

[[Page 66219]]

website at https://www.federalregister.gov/. Background information and 
documents are available at the NMFS West Coast Region website at 

phone: (206) 526-4656 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 2021 Total Allowable Catch (TAC), for Pacific 
whiting was provided in the final rule for the 2021 Pacific whiting 
harvest specifications, published June 23, 2021 (86 FR 32804). 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 Co-op), the mothership cooperative (MS Co-
op), and the Shorebased Individual Fishery Quota (IFQ) Program.
    This notice announces the reapportionment of 34,645 metric tons 
(mt) of Pacific whiting from the tribal allocation to the non-tribal 
commercial sectors. This reapportionment was effective on September 15, 
2021. 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.

Pacific Whiting Reapportionment

    For 2021, the Pacific Coast treaty tribes were allocated 64,645 mt 
of Pacific whiting. The best available information on September 15, 
2021, indicated that at least 34,645 mt of the tribal allocation would 
not be harvested by December 31, 2021. 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 2021, 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 4 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 
15, 2021, NMFS reapportioned 34,645 mt from the Tribal sector to the 
Shorebased IFQ Program, C/P Co-op, and MS Co-op 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 15, 2021, 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 2021 before and after 
the reapportionment are described in Table 1 below.

                Table 1--2020 Pacific Whiting Allocations
                                                    2021      Final 2021
                    Sector                       allocation   allocation
                                                    (mt)         (mt)
Tribal........................................     64,645.0     30,000.0
C/P Coop......................................    103,362.0    115,141.3
MS Coop.......................................     72,961.0     81,275.8
Shorebased IFQ Program........................    127,682.0    142,232.9


    NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. This action is required by 50 CFR 660.55 (i), 660.60(d), 
and 660.131(h), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
    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).

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

    Dated: November 16, 2021.
Ngagne Jafnar Gueye,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-25369 Filed 11-19-21; 8:45 am]