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36506 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No.

123 / Tuesday, June 27, 2006 / Proposed Rules

Evidencing System to a postal patron (12) Disclosure to a Postage Proposed rule; request for
ACTION:
that uses a Postage Evidencing System, Evidencing System provider of comments.
and communications with respect to the applicant information pertaining to that
status of such authorization. provider’s customers that the Postal SUMMARY: NMFS issues this proposed
(3) Disclosure to a meter manufacturer Service views as necessary to enable the rule to implement Amendment 18 to the
of the identity of any meter required to Postal Service to carry out its duties and Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery
be removed from service by that meter purposes. Management Plan (FMP). Amendment
manufacturer, and any related customer (13) To transmit to a Postage 18 is intended to respond to a court
data, as the result of revocation of an Evidencing System provider all order by setting the Pacific Fishery
authorization to use a Postage applicant and system information Management Council’s (Council’s)
Evidencing System, questioned accurate pertaining to that provider’s customers bycatch minimization policies and
registration of that meter, or de- and systems that may be necessary to requirements into the FMP. This rule
certification by the Postal Service of any permit such provider to synchronize its would implement new standardized
particular class or model of postage computer databases with information bycatch reporting methodology and
meter. contained in the computer files of the bycatch minimization requirements for
(4) Tracking the movement of meters Postal Service. groundfish fisheries off the U.S. West
between a meter manufacturer and its (14) Subject to the conditions stated Coast.
customers and communications to a herein, to communicate in oral or DATES: Comments on this proposed rule
meter manufacturer (but not to any third written form with any or all applicants must be received on or before August 8,
party other than the customer) any information that the Postal Service 2006.
concerning such movement. The term, views as necessary to enable the Postal ADDRESSES: Amendment 18 is available
meter manufacturer, includes a meter Service to carry out its duties and on the Council’s website at: http//
manufacturer’s dealers and agents. purposes under part 501. www.nwr.noaa.gov/Groundfish-Halibut/
(5) To transmit general information to
Groundfish-Fishery Management/NEPA-
all Postage Evidencing System § 501.19 Intellectual property.
Documents/Progammatic-EIS.cfm.
customers concerning rate and rate Providers submitting Postage You may submit comments, identified
category changes implemented or Evidencing Systems to the Postal by I.D. number 060606A by any of the
proposed for implementation by the Service for approval are responsible for following methods:
Postal Service. obtaining all intellectual property • E-mail:
(6) To advertise Postal Service licenses that may be required to Amendment18.nwr@noaa.gov. Include
services relating to the acceptance, distribute their product in commerce the I.D. number 060606A in the subject
processing and delivery of, or postage and to allow the Postal Service to line of the message.
payment for, metered mail. process mail bearing the indicia • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://
(7) To allow the Postal Service to produced by the Postage Evidencing www.regulations.gov. Follow the
communicate with Postal Service System. To the extent approval is instructions for submitting comments.
customers on products, services and granted and the Postage Evidencing • Fax: 206–526–6736, Attn: Yvonne
other information otherwise available to System is capable of being used in deReynier.
Postal Service customers through commerce, the provider shall indemnify • Mail: D. Robert Lohn,
traditional retail outlets. the Postal Service for use of such Administrator, Northwest Region,
(8) Any internal use by Postal Service intellectual property in both the use of NMFS, Attn: Yvonne deReynier, 7600
personnel, including identification and the Postage Evidencing System and the Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115–
monitoring activities relating to Postage processing of mail bearing indicia 0070.
Evidencing Systems, provided that such produced by the Postage Evidencing FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
use does not result in the disclosure of System.
applicant information to any third party Yvonne deReynier (Northwest Region,
or will not enable any third party to use Neva R. Watson, NMFS), phone: 206–526–6140; fax: 206–
applicant information for its own Attorney, Legislative. 526–6736; and e-mail:
purposes; except that the applicant yvonne.dereynier@noaa.gov.
[FR Doc. 06–5675 Filed 6–26–06; 8:45 am]
information may be disclosed to other BILLING CODE 7710–12–P SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
governmental agencies for law
Electronic Access
enforcement purposes as provided by
law. This Federal Register document is
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE also accessible via the internet at the
(9) Identification of authorized
Postage Evidencing System providers or National Oceanic and Atmospheric website of the Office of the Federal
announcement of the de-authorization Administration Register: www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/
of an authorized provider, or provision index.html.
of currently available public 50 CFR Part 660 NMFS is proposing this rule to
information, where an authorized implement Amendment 18 to the FMP,
provider is identified. [Docket No.060609159–01; I.D. 060606A] which is intended to set the Council’s
(10) To promote and encourage the bycatch minimization polices and
RIN 0648–AU12 requirements into the FMP. Amendment
use of Postage Evidencing Systems as a
form of postage payment, provided that Fisheries Off West Coast States; 18 is intended to respond to court
the same information is provided to all Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; orders in Pacific Marine Conservation
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Postage Evidencing System customers Amendment 18 Council v. Evans, 200 F.Supp.2d 1194
and no particular Postage Evidencing (N.D. Calif. 2002) [hereinafter PMCC v.
System provider will be recommended AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Evans]. The regulations to implement
by the Postal Service. Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Amendment 18 would: require that
(11) To contact customers in cases of Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), groundfish fishery management
revenue fraud or revenue security. Commerce. measures take into account the co-

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Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 123 / Tuesday, June 27, 2006 / Proposed Rules 36507

occurrence ratios of overfished species comply with Magnuson-Stevens Act Under Amendment 14, vessel owners
with more abundant target stocks; requirements on bycatch monitoring with stacked permits are eligible to
require vessels that participate in the and minimization. However, in PMCC v. harvest the tier amounts of sablefish
open access groundfish fisheries to carry Evans, the court found that Amendment associated with each of the permits
observers if directed by NMFS; 13 did not adequately address the registered for use with a vessel (66 FR
authorize the use of depth-based closed required provisions of the Magnuson- 41152, August 7, 2001.) Landings limits
areas as a routine management measure Stevens Act and the National for species other than sablefish are not
for protecting and rebuilding overfished Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). stackable; this means that although the
stocks, preventing the overfishing of any Specifically, the court found that: (1) tier stacking program maintains a fairly
groundfish species, minimizing the Amendment 13 failed to establish consistent level of sablefish fishing
incidental harvest of any protected or adequate bycatch assessment effort, it reduces both the number of
prohibited non-groundfish species, methodology; (2) NMFS did not comply fishing vessels and the fishing effort on
controlling effort to extend the fishing with its duty under the Magnuson- groundfish species other than sablefish.
season, minimizing the disruption of Stevens Act to minimize bycatch and Amendment 14 also converted the
traditional commercial fishing and bycatch mortality; (3) NMFS did not fishery from a brief (<15 days per year)
marketing patterns, spreading the take a ‘‘hard look’’ at the environmental derby fishery to a 7-month annual
available recreational catch over a large consequences of Amendment 13, in season. Because vessels are no longer
number of anglers, discouraging target violation of NEPA; and (4) the fishing in a fast-paced fishery, they have
fishing while allowing small incidental Environmental Assessment did not fewer incentives to discard non-
catches to be landed, and allowing small consider a reasonable range of sablefish catch in favor of reserving hold
fisheries to operate outside the normal alternatives and environmental space for the targeted sablefish. Since
season; and, update the boundary consequences, in violation of NEPA. 2001, the limited entry sablefish fleet
definitions of the Klamath and Following the court’s decision and has consolidated such that of the 164
Columbia River Salmon Conservation remand order in PMCC v. Evans, NMFS sablefish endorsed permits, 155 are
Zones and Eureka nearshore area to use completed a final EIS on a bycatch registered for use with 72 vessels and 9
latitude and longitude coordinates in a mitigation program for the West Coast are not currently registered for use with
style similar to that of the Groundfish groundfish fisheries (69 FR 57277, a particular vessel (as of January 2006.)
Conservation Areas (GCAs). This September 24, 2004.) The preferred Amendment 14’s implementation has
proposed rule is based on the alternative in that final EIS articulates reduced the limited entry fixed gear
recommendations of the Council, under the Council’s bycatch minimization sablefish fleet to approximately 50
the authority of the FMP and the policies and requirements. Once the
percent of its 2001 size.
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery In 2003, enactment of Public Law
bycatch minimization program EIS was
Conservation and Management Act 108–7 provided NMFS with an
complete, the Council and NMFS began opportunity to reduce participation in
(Magnuson-Stevens Act). The
drafting Amendment 18 to bring the the West Coast groundfish limited entry
background and rationale for the
preferred alternative from the EIS into trawl fleet. Congress funded a vessel
Council’s recommendations are
the groundfish FMP. Amendment 18 to and permit buyback program through a
summarized below. Further detail
the FMP articulates the Council’s $10 million appropriation, plus a $36
appears in the Pacific Coast Groundfish
bycatch minimization approach for the million loan to the fleet, which is to be
Fishery Bycatch Mitigation EIS (69 FR
groundfish fisheries and provides paid back through landings taxes.
57277, September 24, 2004; available
comprehensive direction for current and During 2003, NMFS developed and
online at http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/
Groundfish-Halibut/Groundfish-Fishery- future bycatch minimization efforts implemented the buyback program,
Management/NEPA-Documents/ within Pacific Coast groundfish which removed 91 vessels and their
Programmatic-EIS.cfm). management. Amendment 18 largely re- state and Federal permits from West
wrote Chapter 6 of the FMP, Coast fisheries. Three trawl permits
Background ‘‘Management Measures,’’ to focus on have been subsequently removed from
The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires bycatch monitoring and minimization. the fishery via permit combination. The
that fishery management plans Groundfish FMP prior to Amendment 18 limited entry trawl fleet is currently at
‘‘establish a standardized reporting 180 permits, down from 274 permits
methodology to assess the amount and Several FMP amendments and prior to the buyback program, a fleet
type of bycatch occurring in the fishery, numerous Federal regulations size reduction of 34 percent. Trawl trip
and include conservation and subsequent to Amendment 13 have limits for the remaining vessels in the
management measures that, to the dealt in some way with bycatch, fleet are higher than they would have
extent practicable and in the following although none has had bycatch as their been under the full-sized fleet; higher
priority - (A) minimize bycatch; and (B) only focus. Amendment 14 to the FMP limits that are better matched to the
minimize the mortality of bycatch implemented a permit stacking program capacity of participating vessels reduce
which cannot be avoided.’’ 16 U.S.C. for the limited entry fixed gear sablefish the frequency of regulation-induced
1853(a)(11). The Magnuson-Stevens Act fishery (66 FR 41152, August 7, 2001.) discard.
defines the term bycatch to mean ‘‘fish Amendment 14 reduced vessel Amendment 16–1, which dealt
which are harvested in a fishery, but participation in the limited entry fixed primarily with a framework for
which are not sold or kept for personal gear primary sablefish fishery by implementing overfished species
use, and includes economic discards allowing up to three limited entry rebuilding plans, revised the FMP at
and regulatory discards. Such term does permits with sablefish endorsements to section 6.5.1.2 to read in part, ‘‘The
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not include fish released alive under a be stacked on a single fixed gear vessel. Regional Administrator [of NMFS’s
recreational catch and release fishery Reducing the number of fishery Northwest Region] will implement an
management program.’’ 16 U.S.C. participants indirectly reduces bycatch observer program through a Council-
1802(2). by reducing the number of vessels approved Federal regulatory
Amendment 13 to the FMP, approved potentially responsible for fishing trips framework....’’ At § 303(a)(11), the
in December 2000, was intended to and discard events. Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that

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36508 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 123 / Tuesday, June 27, 2006 / Proposed Rules

fishery management plans ‘‘establish a by trawl gear, trawl gear is less selective CA, between boundary lines
standardized reporting methodology to than other West Coast groundfish gears, approximating the 100 fm (183–m) and
assess the amount and type of bycatch making the potential for bycatch higher 250–fm (457–m) depth contours, with
occurring in the fishery....’’ The with this gear type. During the period trawling prohibited within the
Amendment 16–1 revision to Section January 2004 through April 2005, conservation area. NMFS and the
6.5.1.2 was intended to comply with the WCGOP observed 26 percent of catch Council expanded the use of depth-
Maguson-Stevens Act requirement for landed by the bottom trawl fleet based area closures beginning in January
inclusion of standardized reporting (Observer data report, Table 1, http:// 2003. This expansion took place at the
methodologies in FMPs. NMFS has www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/ same time that the Council was
implemented two major rulemakings for divisions/fram/observer/datareport/ developing Amendments 16–2 and 16–
placing observers on West Coast trawl/datareprtsep2005.cfm). This level 3, which later incorporated the use of
groundfish vessels, one in 2001 to of coverage equals or surpasses observer closed areas as important tools for
require at-sea observer coverage in the coverage levels in other observed managing fisheries to stay within
catcher-boat fleet, and a second in 2004 fisheries nationwide and meets overfished species rebuilding OYs.
to convert and expand observer statistical sampling requirements to The terms ‘‘Rockfish Conservation
coverage in the at-sea processor fleet monitor and manage the fishery. Areas’’ and ‘‘RCAs’’ refer to gear-
from voluntary to mandatory. In addition to managing coastwide specific depth-based closures, most of
Observers are a uniformly trained observer coverage of catcher boats, which stretch along the entire length of
group of technicians who collect WCGOP also manages observer coverage the U.S. West Coast, bounded by lines
biological data aboard fishing vessels. in the at-sea whiting mothership approximating the depth contours that
They are stationed aboard vessels to processing and catcher-processor fishery have been shown to enclose areas of
gather independent data about the fish sectors. Participants in the at-sea higher overfished species abundance.
that are taken or received by the vessel. whiting fleet had been carrying RCAs are gear-specific in order to
Standardized sampling protocol, observers voluntarily since 1991, but account for the differing effects that
defined by NMFS to incorporate random NMFS made that coverage mandatory in different gear types have on overfished
sampling theory, is intended to provide 2004 (69 FR 31751, June 6, 2004). species. For example, Pacific ocean
statistically reliable data for fleetwide Through that rulemaking, NMFS also perch and darkblotched rockfish have
fishery monitoring. The primary duties increased observer coverage in the at-sea historically been taken almost
of an observer include: estimating catch whiting fleet to 200 percent, meaning exclusively with trawl gear, while
weights; determining catch that each vessel carries two observers. yelloweye rockfish is more susceptible
composition; collecting length and Although the whiting fishery is the to hook-and-line gear in recreational
weight measurements, and doing sex largest-volume single species West and commercial fisheries. Managers
determinations. Data collected by Coast groundfish fishery, it has developed a suite of RCAs for trawl
observers are compiled for the purpose relatively low bycatch rates, making gear, non-trawl gear, and recreational
of estimating overall catches of proper observer coverage a challenge fisheries to reduce the impacts of
groundfish; estimating incidental catch because such coverage seeks to quantify different gears on overfished species.
of species not allowed to be retained by rare events. RCAs and the closed-polygon CCAs and
these vessels; and for assessing stock In 2004, Amendments 16–2 and 16– Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area
condition. Observers must meet 3 implemented overfished species are implemented in permanent Federal
minimum education and experience rebuilding programs for eight overfished regulations at 50 CFR 660.390 - 660.394.
requirements and must be trained by species: bocaccio, canary rockfish, The GCAs reflect the Council’s
NMFS to ensure that they properly cowcod, darkblotched rockfish, lingcod, contemporary approach to groundfish
apply NMFS’s sampling protocol. Pacific ocean perch, widow rockfish, management, which largely focuses on
In April 2001, NMFS published a and yelloweye rockfish. Rebuilding rebuilding overfished species through
final rule to implement a mandatory plans for overfished species endorsed minimizing total catch of those species.
observer program for the West Coast the use of GCAs to reduce the incidental Area closures have moved vessels away
groundfish fishery (66 FR 20609; April catch of overfished species in times and from many of the traditional rockfish
24, 2001.) NMFS established the West areas where they are more likely to fishing grounds, where the longer-lived
Coast Groundfish Observer Program occur. GCAs are large areas where and slow-maturing rockfish are more
(WCGOP) in 2001 to collect total catch specific fishing activities are prohibited likely to be found. Fishing fleets have
and discard information from the or restricted and are used to reduce reacted differently to these requirements
groundfish fisheries. Vessels are directed or incidental fishing effort on in terms of how and when they fish and
selected for observer coverage under the overfished species. NMFS and the the gear that they use. Trawlers in the
authority of Federal groundfish observer Council had begun using closed areas to northern portion of the West Coast have
regulations at 50 CFR 660.314 and in reduce the incidental catch of turned their fishing effort more strongly
accordance with a coverage sampling overfished species in 2001, with the toward the more abundant and faster-
plan (See: http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/ implementation of two Cowcod maturing flatfish species managed
research/divisions/fram/observer/ Conservation Areas (CCAs) in the within the groundfish FMP.
index.cfm. NMFS periodically refines Southern California Bight (66 FR 2338, The expansion of area closures has
this plan in response to changes in January 11, 2001.) Their implementation also changed fishing behavior in other
vessel numbers and fishing distribution led the way to a series of area closures ways. In 2003, trawlers began working
along the coast. intended to reduce the catch of other with the State of Oregon to develop
WCGOP focuses a significant overfished species. In September 2002, parameters for a trawl net that better
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proportion of its sampling effort on the NMFS introduced its first large-scale, targets flatfish while excluding rockfish.
limited entry bottom trawl fleet, because depth based conservation area, the NMFS issued the State of Oregon an
the majority of non-whiting groundfish Darkblotched Rockfish Conservation exempted fishing permit (EFP) to test
landings are taken by that sector of the Area. The Darkblotched Rockfish rockfish-excluding nets in 2003–2004,
groundfish fleet. While many West Conservation Area extended from the and the Council developed its 2005–
Coast groundfish species are taken only U.S./Canada border to Cape Mendocino, 2006 management measures for the

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trawl sector in part based on the results with which gear types bycatch of verifying catch and discard used for
of this EFP. Trawlers operating inshore varying species occurs; and (3) develop scientific data collection....’’
of the Trawl RCA and north of 40°10′ N. management measures that minimize Section 6.4 also authorizes the use of
lat. are required by regulation to use bycatch and bycatch mortality to the electronic monitoring programs ‘‘for
selective flatfish trawl gear, which is extent practicable.’’ Although NMFS appropriate sectors of the fishery.’’
configured to reduce bycatch of rockfish and the Council have been using this Since 2004, NMFS has been working
while allowing the nets to retain flatfish. strategy for several years, Amendment with the three states, with Oregon taking
Selective flatfish trawl nets have a 18 formalizes it within the FMP and the lead, on an experimental program to
flattened ovoid trawl mouth opening uses it to institute a comprehensive test electronic monitoring in the shore-
that is notably wider than it is tall, with approach to and requirements for based whiting sector. Electronic
headropes that are recessed from the bycatch monitoring and minimization. monitoring is an integrated assortment
trawl mouth. This combination of a In addition to the revisions to Chapter of electronic components, usually
flattened oval shape and a recessed 6, which are discussed below, including video recorders, that can be
headrope herds flatfish into the trawl Amendment 18 revises one of the FMP’s used at-sea to monitor specific fishing
net while allowing rockfish to slip up goals and five of its objectives to place behavior at a lower-cost than human
and over the headrope without entering a greater emphasis on reducing bycatch observers. Electronic monitoring
the net. Selective flatfish trawl gear has as part of groundfish fishery programs do not replace observer
been shown to have lower rockfish management. Amendment 18’s changes programs, although they can be used to
bycatch rates than more traditional to the FMP are available on the reduce the cost of observer monitoring
trawl net configurations. By preventing Council’s website at: http:// in some sectors. The Council is
the non-target species from even www.pcouncil.org/groundfish/gffmp/ scheduled to consider at its September
entering the net, the selective flatfish gfal8.html. and November 2006 meeting whether to
trawl gear reduces both bycatch and Amendment 18 creates a new section convert the experimental use of at-sea
bycatch mortality in the trawl fishery. 6.4 in the FMP, ‘‘Standardized Total electronic monitoring in the whiting
At the same time that the Council was Catch Reporting Methodology and fishery into a longer-term regulatory
developing Amendment 18, it was also Compliance Monitoring Program.’’ requirement.
working on Amendment 19 to the FMP, Section 6.4 establishes standard Section 6.4 also updates the FMP’s
which designates West Coast groundfish reporting mechanisms that provide the authorizations for implementing a
essential fish habitat (EFH) and Council with total catch estimates and vessel compliance monitoring and
implements measures to minimize monitoring methods to verify vessel reporting system. At the same time that
fishing impacts to EFH. Amendment 19, compliance with regulations intended to NMFS and the Council were developing
which NMFS approved on March 8, minimize bycatch and meet other the bycatch mitigation EIS, they were
2006, establishes 51 ecologically fishery management goals. also developing a vessel monitoring
important habitat closed areas (FMP In the West Coast groundfish fishery, system (VMS) program to monitor
section 6.8.5,) including a bottom trawl bycatch reporting is included as part of compliance with fishery closed areas.
closure for waters offshore of the 700– total catch (landed catch + discard) VMS is a tool that allows enforcement
fm (1290–m) depth contour (FMP reporting. Amendment 18 expands the agents to monitor a vessel’s speed,
section 6.8.6) to minimize the adverse obligations of the Council and its direction, and location. VMS transceiver
effects of fishing on West Coast collaborating agencies to contribute to units installed aboard vessels
groundfish EFH (71 FR 27408, May 11, and improve total catch reporting automatically determine the vessel’s
2008.) Like the CCAs, the habitat closed methodologies for West Coast position and transmit that position to a
areas are discrete closed polygons. And, groundfish fisheries. Under Amendment processing center via a communication
like the RCAs, some of the closed areas 18, the FMP would: retain the satellite. At the processing center, the
apply just to bottom trawling, while requirement that the Regional information is validated and analyzed
others apply to all bottom contact gear. Administrator implement an observer before being disseminated for various
Although the Amendment 19 closures program to collect data used for total purposes, which may include fisheries
are not specifically intended to prevent catch accounting, authorize the use of management, surveillance and
bycatch, some or all fishing will be electronic monitoring equipment (via enforcement. Prior to Amendment 18,
eliminated within the habitat closed cameras and other devices) as the FMP had authorized a variety of
areas, reducing opportunities to directly appropriate, require the use of observer general reporting requirements, but had
or incidentally take species found data in the biennial and inseason fishery not linked those requirements to
within the habitat closed areas. management processes, and provide for compliance monitoring. Section 6.4.2
new information on state monitoring reflects the Council’s focus on better
Groundfish FMP under Amendment 18 programs for recreational fisheries. linking science, management, and
As mentioned earlier, Amendment 18 Amendment 18 particularly addresses enforcement throughout the groundfish
significantly revised Chapter 6 of the the need to increase catch data management program.
FMP, ‘‘Management Measures’’ to collection from vessels that may not Amendment 18 adds a new section
address the bycatch monitoring and target groundfish, but which may take 6.5, ‘‘Bycatch Mitigation Program’’ that
minimization requirements of the groundfish incidentally at section describes the Council’s three-part
Magnuson-Stevens Act. At Section 6.5, 6.4.1.1, ‘‘All fishing vessels operating in bycatch strategy, sets processes for
Amendment 18 revises the FMP to this management unit, which includes developing bycatch minimization
require the use of a three-part bycatch catcher/processors, at-sea processors, measures, authorizes the use of a variety
minimization strategy to meet the and those vessels that directly or of regulatory programs to minimize
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Magnuson-Stevens Act’s bycatch related incidentally harvest groundfish in bycatch where practicable, and
mandates: ‘‘(1) gather data through a waters off Washington, Oregon and particularly requires the use of several
standardized reporting methodology; (2) California may be required to management programs and measures.
use Federal/state/tribal agency partners accommodate an observer and/or As mentioned earlier, the second part of
to assess these data through bycatch electronic-monitoring system for the the strategy to address bycatch
models that estimate when, where, and purpose of collecting scientific data or requirements is ‘‘use Federal/state/tribal

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36510 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 123 / Tuesday, June 27, 2006 / Proposed Rules

agency partners to assess these data to tailor the catch of more abundant species, stock or stock complex.’’ (FMP
through bycatch models that estimate stocks so that incidental catch of at 6.5.3.2.) The Council is developing
when, where, and with which gear types depleted stocks is avoided. Section 6.5.3 alternatives for an individual quota (IQ)
varying species occur.’’ Bycatch models provides implementation guidance for program for the limited entry trawl
are reviewed in the Council process these bycatch minimization programs, fishery. IQs, depending on specific
through the Council’s Scientific and which are to be implemented where requirements, could include vessel-
Statistical Committee. Managing the practicable: full retention programs, specific catch limits for bycatch species.
fishery with these bycatch models has sector-specific total catch limit One of the objectives the Council has
focused the Council’s overfished species programs, vessel-specific total catch adopted for the design of the program is
rebuilding efforts on the co-occurrence limit programs, and providing catch ‘‘reduce bycatch and discard mortality.’’
ratios between target species and allocations to or gear flexibility for gear Amendment 18 revises the FMP to
overfished species. In other words, types with lower bycatch rates. specify that individual fishing quota
management measures are designed to A full retention program is ‘‘a programs ‘‘would be established for the
take into account information about the regulatory regime that requires purposes of reducing fishery capacity,
rates at which healthy stocks interact participants in a particular sector of the minimizing bycatch, and to meet other
with depleted stocks, so that there is fishery to retain either all of the fish that goals of the FMP.’’ An IQ program with
less fishing effort during times and they catch or all of some species or specific bycatch limits would be
within areas where healthy stocks are species group that they catch....Full dependent upon a more intense level of
more likely to co-occur with depleted retention requirements also encourage monitoring than is practicable under the
stocks. affected fishery participants to tailor current management regime and could
WCGOP began collecting non-whiting their fishing activities so that they are be designed using the FMP’s guidance
observer data in August 2001 and data less likely to encounter non-target on vessel-specific total catch limit
on the bottom trawl fishery began species.’’ NMFS’s work with the states programs.
entering the management process with to experiment with electronic Section 6.5.3.3 allows the allocation
the 2003 groundfish specifications and monitoring in the shore-based whiting of catch or fishing areas to gear types
management measures. The fishery is also looking at whether it is with lower bycatch rates. The Council
introduction of non-whiting observer practicable to manage that fishery as a made this principle mandatory when,
data into the management process full retention program. beginning in 2005, it required the use of
changed and improved NMFS’s A sector-specific total catch limit
selective flatfish trawl gear for vessels
estimates of species co-occurrence ratios program is ‘‘one in which a fishery
fishing shoreward of the Trawl RCA
within commercial catch. Amendment sector would have access to a pre-
north of 40°10′ N. lat. The Council is
18 revises the FMP to require the use of determined amount of a groundfish
FMU [fishery management unit] species, also implementing this principle in
co-occurrence ratios in management
stock, or stock complex that would be using bycatch models that differ by gear
measures development at Section 6.5.3
allowed to be caught by vessels in that type, which in turn means that the
of the FMP, ‘‘During the development of
sector. Once a total catch limit is management measures developed out of
the biennial specifications and
attained, all vessels in the sector would the bycatch models are gear-specific in
management measures, and throughout
have to cease fishing until the end of the addressing target species interactions
the year when measures are adjusted,
limit period, unless the total catch limit with depleted species.
the Council will take into account the
co-occurrence rates of target stocks with is increased by the transfer of additional Section 6.6 of the FMP addresses
overfished stocks, and will select limit amounts.’’ Because the whiting ‘‘Gear Definitions and Restrictions.’’
measures that will minimize, to the fishery has a more mature observer and Amendment 18 primarily updated the
extent practicable, bycatch.’’ monitoring program than the non- FMP with the gear regulations that
Amendment 18 implements the third whiting fisheries, NMFS has been able NMFS has implemented through
part of the FMP’s bycatch strategy, to implement sector-specific bycatch regulations. Amendment 19 to the FMP,
‘‘develop management measures that limits for overfished species taken developed on a concurrent time frame,
minimize bycatch and bycatch mortality incidentally in the Pacific whiting implements prohibitions in section
to the extent practicable,’’ by bringing a fishery (50 CFR 660.373.) Whiting 6.6.1.1 against: fishing with bottom
variety of management measures and fishery participants have expressed an trawl gear with footrope diameter
requirements into the FMP. Some of interest in dividing those bycatch limits greater than 8 inches (20.5 cm)
these measures are specific by sector, so that there are sector- shoreward of a boundary line
requirements to be implemented, while specific limits for the shore-based approximating the 100–fm (183–m)
others articulate the Council’s future sector, the catcher-processor sector, and depth contour, fishing with bottom
policy direction on bycatch the mothership sector. Sector-specific trawl gear with a footrope diameter
minimization within groundfish limits are not practicable until the greater than 19 inches (48.6 cm)
management. Section 6.5.1 states, in shore-based retention and monitoring anywhere in the EEZ, fishing with
part, ‘‘The Council manages its program is more fully developed. dredge gear, and fishing with beam
groundfish fisheries to allow targeting Vessel-specific catch limit programs trawl gear. These measures are
on more abundant stocks while ‘‘are similar to individual vessel quotas specifically intended to protect
constraining the total mortality of as applied to groundfish FMU species, groundfish EFH, although they will also
overfished and precautionary zone stocks, or stock complexes and require reduce the access that some gears have
stocks. For overfished stocks, measures more intense monitoring than a sector- to portions of the EEZ, constraining
to constrain total mortality are primarily specific total catch limit directed and incidental catch by those
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intended to reduce bycatch of those program....Under a vessel-specific total gears. Amendment 19’s trawl footrope
stocks....’’ Section 6.5.1 requires that the catch limit program, the participating prohibitions in the FMP are the
Council use catch restrictions (FMP vessels would be monitored inseason culmination of longer-term Council
section 6.7,) time and area closures and each vessel would be prohibited efforts to restrict trawl gear access to
(FMP section 6.8,) gear restrictions from fishing once it had achieved its habitat areas where incidental catch of
(FMP section 6.6,) and other measures total catch limit for a given FMU sensitive species may occur.

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Amendment 18 adds section 6.7 to traditional fishing and marketing fishery management measures take into
update the FMP’s guidance on ‘‘Catch patterns; to reduce discards; for the account the co-occurrence ratios of
Restrictions.’’ Amendment 18’s recreational fisheries, to spread the overfished species with more abundant
additions on catch restrictions primarily available catch over a large number of target stocks; revise Federal observer
provide further guidance on the FMP’s anglers; to discourage target fishing regulations to authorize NMFS to place
direct catch limiting tools: quotas, size while allowing small incidental catches observers on vessels that participate in
limits, total catch limits, prohibited to be landed; and to allow small the open access groundfish fisheries;
species designation, trip limits, and fisheries to operate outside the normal allow the use of depth-based closed
recreational bag limits, boat limits, and season.’’ (section 6.2.1.) This expanded areas as a routine management measure
catch dressing requirements. allowable use of depth-based for protecting and rebuilding overfished
Amendment 18 adds section 6.8, management measures makes those stocks, preventing the overfishing of any
‘‘Time/Area Closures’’ to the FMP, measures available for constraining the groundfish species, minimizing the
including a variety of time/area closures incidental catch of a broad array of incidental harvest of any protected or
in the FMP that vary by type both in species, not just overfished species. prohibited non-groundfish species,
their permanency and in the size of area The wide variety of marine closed controlling effort to extend the fishing
closed, explaining: ‘‘When the Council areas intended to protect overfished season, minimizing the disruption of
sets fishing seasons [Section 6.8.1,] it species, protected salmon, and traditional commercial fishing and
generally uses latitude lines extending groundfish habitat (closures marketing patterns, spreading the
from shore to the EEZ boundary to close implemented via Amendment 19) available recreational catch over a large
large sections of the EEZ for part of a creates a potentially confusing mixture number of anglers, discouraging target
fishing year to one or more fishing of open and closed areas that apply to fishing while allowing small incidental
sectors. RCAs [at section 6.8.2,] by various gear types. In order to better catches to be landed, and allowing small
contrast, are coastwide fishing area enforce the closed areas, NMFS fisheries to operate outside the normal
closures bounded on the east and west introduced a pilot VMS program on season; and update the boundary
by lines connecting a series of January 1, 2004 (68 FR 62374, definitions of the Klamath and
coordinates approximating a particular November 4, 2003). The pilot VMS Columbia River Salmon Conservation
depth contour. RCAs are gear-specific regulatory system initially required Zones and Eureka nearshore area to use
and their eastern and western vessels registered to limited entry latitude and longitude coordinates in a
boundaries may vary during the year. permits to carry and use VMS units. style similar to that of the GCAs.
RCAs also may be polygons that are When it made its recommendations that This proposed rule would revise
closed to fishing for a brief period (less NMFS implement this pilot system, the Federal regulations at 50 CFR 660.370 to
than one year) in order to provide short- Council stated its intent to expand VMS require species co-occurrence ratios to
term protection for the more migratory requirements to cover the open access be taken into account during the setting
overfished or other protected species. commercial groundfish fisheries and of harvest specifications and
Groundfish fishing areas (GFAs) [at portions of the recreational fisheries. management measures. This action is
section 6.8.3] are enclosed areas of high Over 2004–2005, the Council developed intended to implement the FMP’s
abundance of a particular species or and considered a program to expand requirement under Amendment 18 that
species group and may be used to allow VMS requirements to the commercial bycatch be addressed through modeling
targeting of a more abundant stock open access fishery. At its November interactions between target and bycatch
within that enclosed area. Long-term 2005 meeting, the Council made its final species, and the requirement that
bycatch mitigation closed areas (section recommendation to require VMS management measures be designed to
6.8.4) have boundaries that do not vary coverage for all open access vessels take into account those modeled
by season and are not usually modified operating in the EEZ. NMFS is interactions.
annually or biennially.’’ developing a proposed rule to To implement Amendment 18 and to
Since the court’s ruling in PMCC v. implement the Council’s VMS clarify the agency’s authority to place
Evans, NMFS has implemented a broad expansion recommendations, which the observers on open access groundfish
suite of marine area closures intended to agency plans to publish in summer vessels, this rule proposes to revise
reduce incidental catch of overfished 2006. To recognize the need for VMS as observer coverage requirement
groundfish species. RCAs have been a compliance tool for area and/or season regulations at § 660.314(c)(2). Catcher
used as a significant tool in rebuilding closures, the Council recommended vessels that would be subject to Federal
overfished groundfish species through including an authorization for its use observer coverage requirements would
reducing opportunities for incidental within the FMP via Amendment 18 at include: (A) Any vessel registered for
cath of those species. RCA boundaries section 6.4.2. Amendment 18 also adds use with a Pacific Coast groundfish
can be altered inseason to tailor fishery section 6.10, ‘‘Fishery Enforcement and limited entry permit that fishes in state
management measures with the most Vessel Safety,’’ to provide a more clear or Federal waters seaward of the
recently available catch or scientific framework for evaluating the baseline from which the territorial sea is
information, to better ensure that enforceability of all regulations measured off the States of Washington,
overfished species OYs are not implementing the FMP, including those Oregon, or California (0–200 nm
exceeded. related to area closures. offshore); (B) Any vessel that is used to
When the Council finalized its take and retain, possess, or land
recommendations on Amendment 18 at Regulations Implementing Amendment groundfish in or from the EEZ; (C) Any
its November 2005 meeting, it 18 vessel that is required to take a Federal
recommended expanding the allowable As discussed above, NMFS and the observer by the applicable state law.
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use of depth-based management Council have implemented a variety of WCGOP is working with the three West
measures from reducing catch of and bycatch minimization regulations since Coast states to ensure that state law is
rebuilding overfished stocks to: ‘‘protect Amendment 13. In addition to those concurrent with Federal law in
and rebuild overfished stocks; extend measures already in place, the permitting Federal observer coverage of
the fishing season; for the commercial regulations to implement Amendment vessels that take groundfish. This action
fisheries, to minimize disruption of 18 would: require that groundfish is intended to ensure that WCGOP has

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access not just to vessels targeting overfished species conservation areas. whether it intended the size of the open
groundfish in Federal waters, but also to This proposed rule would revise Federal access fleet to be reduced. When
open access vessels participating in regulations to define the boundaries of recommending permits for open access
fisheries that take and retain federally the salmon conservation zones within fishery participants, Council members
managed groundfish species, even if series of latitude/longitude coordinates, expressed a desire to have more
they are not specifically targeting as has been done for the RCAs and other complete data on catch attributable to
groundfish. overfished species conservation areas. vessels landing groundfish outside of
As mentioned earlier, Amendment 18 This proposed rule would also revise the limited entry fishery. NMFS’s draft
expands the use of depth-based Federal regulations to refer to the area Environmental Assessment on
management measures beyond affected by more restrictive trip limits as expanding VMS coverage to the open
protecting and rebuilding overfished shoreward of the boundary line access fishery found that 1,000 - 1,500
stocks. This proposed rule would revise approximating the 100–fm (183–m) vessels participate in the open access
Federal regulations at 50 CFR 660.370 depth contour, as defined for RCAs and fishery each year. Amendment 18
so that routine management measures other management areas with latitude/ revises the second objective of the FMP
for all fisheries allow depth-based longitude coordinates at § 660.393. to place a higher priority on managing
management measures to be used: ‘‘to These measures are intended to improve harvest capacity so that it is better
protect and rebuild overfished stocks, to the enforceability of regulations matched to available groundfish
prevent the overfishing of any designed to reduce salmon bycatch in resources. NMFS supports the Council’s
groundfish species by minimizing the the whiting fishery. desire to permit the open access fleet so
direct or incidental catch of that species, as to provide better vessel-specific
to minimize the incidental harvest of Continuing Council Efforts in Support
tracking of landings in that sector.
any protected species taken in the of Amendment 18
However, the agency also supports
groundfish fishery, to extend the fishing In a multi-species fishery like the bringing the capacity within the open
season; for the commercial fisheries, to West Coast groundfish fishery, access fishery into line with the
minimize disruption of traditional developing management measures to resources available to that fleet, and will
fishing and marketing patterns; for the minimize bycatch is an ongoing effort. be urging the Council to consider
recreational fisheries, to spread the When the Council adopted Amendment management alternatives to reduce open
available catch over a large number of 18, they discussed next steps for access fleet size. The Council is initially
anglers; to discourage target fishing bycatch minimization, particularly scheduled to consider this issue at its
while allowing small incidental catches looking for practical near-term actions September 10–15, 2006, meeting in
to be landed; and to allow small that could swiftly result in bycatch Foster City, CA.
fisheries to operate outside the normal reduction. In addition to the suite of Beyond these two issues, the Council
season.’’ This measure is intended to management measures brought into the is considering a variety of management
allow the expanded use of depth-based FMP and Federal regulations via programs that include reducing bycatch
closed areas both as biennial and Amendment 18, the Council as management goals: additional area
inseason management measures to recommended: (1) investigating the state closures to protect both overfished
protect a more broad variety of species and Federal total catch data delivery species and protected salmon as part of
than just overfished species. systems with the aim of increasing the the 2007–2008 groundfish harvest
NMFS has primarily used depth- frequency with which observer and total specifications and management
based management in the non-whiting catch data is made available to the measures; a trawl IQ program intended,
groundfish fisheries. The whiting Council and the public, and (2) in part, to minimize discard; a full
fishery has been managed with salmon implementing a permitting program for retention and electronic monitoring
protection zones off the Columbia and the groundfish open access fishery so as program for the shorebased whiting
Klamath rivers since 1993 (April 20, to better connect catch with vessels in fishery; and a groundfish allocation EIS
1993, 58 FR 21263.) The whiting fishery particular geographic areas. that would establish allocations
is also restricted within the Eureka For the first issue, more timely access between the trawl and fixed gear sectors
management area (43°00′ to 40°30′ N. to total catch data, the Council asked of the limited entry fleet, and between
lat., approximately Cape Blanco, OR to NMFS to begin a dialogue within the the commercial and recreational
Cape Mendocino, CA), wherein it is Council process by reporting to the fisheries, in order to allow the
subject to more restrictive trip limits Council on the process for observer data development and consideration of a
shoreward of the 100–fm (183–m) depth compilation and analysis. The agency’s trawl IQ program, and sector-specific
contour. Both the salmon protection initial sense is that there are several and/or vessel-specific total catch limit
zones and the trip limit restrictions steps in the data aggregation process programs.
within the Eureka management area are that need to be reviewed for efficiency: Because technology and economic
intended to reduce bycatch of (1) the delivery of fish ticket and port considerations change over time, the
endangered and threatened salmon sampler data to the Pacific Fisheries practicability of effectively using
taken incidental to the whiting fishery. Information Network (PacFIN;) (2) the different bycatch minimization
NMFS is using this Amendment 18 verification of fish ticket data with measures also changes over time.
proposed rule to update the boundary observer data to ensure that the correct Amendment 18 to the groundfish FMP
designations for the Klamath River and fish tickets are matched to the correct contains measures to both minimize
Columbia River Salmon Conservation observed trips; (3) the delivery of bycatch to the extent practicable at this
Zones, and to update the Eureka finalized trawl logbook data to PacFIN; time, and to foster fishery management
restriction zone so that it is bounded by (4) the analysis of observer data and its programs that will expand the array of
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the RCA 100–fm (183–m) boundary line, expansion to the total fleet; (5) the management measures that are
rather than by a bathymetric curve compilation of observer data into practicable in the future. Bycatch
found on a series of NOAA charts. formats compatible with confidentiality minimizing management tools that
Current regulatory language designating laws and the Information Quality Act. might not now be available to manage
the boundaries of these areas is not as For the second issue, open access fleet the fleet may become available in the
precise as that used for RCAs and other permitting, the Council did not specify future. Amendment 18 provides a

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Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 123 / Tuesday, June 27, 2006 / Proposed Rules 36513

framework for implementing bycatch groundfish species by minimizing the vessels that annually participate in the
minimization measures that are direct or incidental catch of that species West Coast Pacific whiting fishery.
impracticable at this time, but which (in addition to the current use of depth- NMFS and the Council developed
may become practicable in the future. based management measures to protect these proposed regulations in order to
overfished species;) allow the use of implement Amendment 18, which
Classification brings the Council’s bycatch
depth-based closed areas as a routine
At this time, NMFS has not management measure for minimizing minimization program into the FMP. As
determined whether Amendment 18, the bycatch of any prohibited or discussed earlier in this document, the
which this rule would implement, is protected species taken incidentally in Council developed Amendment 18 from
consistent with the national standards the groundfish fishery, for controlling its preferred alternative in a September
of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other effort to extend the fishing season, for 2004 final EIS on a bycatch
applicable laws. NMFS, in making that minimizing the disruption of traditional minimization program in the West Coast
determination, will take into account fishing seasons and marketing patterns, groundfish fisheries. The EIS analyzed
the data, views, and comments received for allowing the recreational catch to be seven alternatives for a long-term
during the comment period. available to the largest number of bycatch minimization program: (1)
NMFS prepared a final EIS a bycatch anglers, for discouraging target fishing Status quo, control bycatch by trip
minimization program in the Pacific while allowing small incidental catches limits that vary by gear, depth, fishing
Coast groundfish fisheries. Amendment to be landed, and for allowing small area, and season; (2) reduce effort in the
18 would implement the Council’s fisheries to operate outside of the fishery to allow for larger trip limits; (3)
preferred alternative from that EIS. A normal fishing season, and; update the shorten the commercial fishing season
notice of availability for the final EIS boundary definitions of the Klamath to allow for larger trip limits; (4)
was published on September 24, 2004 and Columbia River Salmon establish sector catch and mortality
(69 FR 57277.) A copy of the final EIS Conservation Zones and Eureka caps; (5) establish an individual quota
is available online at: nearshore area to use latitude and program for the commercial fishery; (6)
http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/groundfish- longitude coordinates in a style similar close large marine areas to fishing,
Halibut/Groundfish-Fishery- to that of the GCAs. implement more strict gear restrictions,
Management/NEPA-Documents/ Approximately 1,511 vessels establish individual bycatch caps, and;
Programmatic-EIS.cfm. participated in the West Coast (7) preferred, include all current bycatch
This proposed rule has been commercial groundfish fisheries in minimization program elements in the
determined to be not significant for 2003. Of those, about 498 vessels were FMP, develop and adopt sector-specific
purposes of Executive Order 12866. registered to limited entry permits caps for overfished and depleted
This action contains a variety of issued for either trawl, longline, or pot groundfish species where practicable;
proposed revisions to Federal gear. All but 10–20 of the 1,511 vessels support the future use of Individual
regulations. With respect to the participating in the groundfish fisheries Fishing Quota programs for appropriate
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the are considered small businesses by the sectors of the fishery; improve baseline
revisions to observer regulations Small Business Administration. In the accounting of bycatch by sector for to
proposed by this action are within the 2001 recreational fisheries, there were better meet future bycatch program
scope of the analysis conducted for the 106 Washington charter vessels engaged goals.
initial implementation of the observer in salt water fishing outside of Puget Each of the alternatives analyzed in
program: the EA/RIR/IRFA on ‘‘An Sound, 232 charter vessels active on the the EIS was expected to have different
Observer Program for Catcher Vessels in Oregon coast, and 415 charter vessels overall effects on the economy. Because
the Pacific Coast Groundfish active on the California coast. Although of the length of time necessary to
Fishery’’(2000). NMFS summarized the some charter businesses, particularly complete an EIS of this magnitude,
Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for those in or near large California cities, many of the actions contemplated in the
that action in the preamble to the final may not be small businesses, all are preferred alternative and elsewhere in
rule published on April 24, 2001 (66 FR assumed to be small businesses for the EIS were analyzed and implemented
20609.) For the remainder of the purposes of this discussion. via some separate earlier action. For
regulatory actions proposed in this rule, The regulations that require that example, the large-scale marine area
NMFS prepared an updated initial groundfish fishery management closures off the West Coast known as
regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) as measures take into account the co- RCAs were first implemented coastwide
required by section 603 of the RFA. The occurrence ratios of overfished species as part of the 2004 groundfish harvest
IRFA describes the economic impact with more abundant target stocks, allow specifications and management
this proposed rule, if adopted, would the use of depth-based closed areas as measures. The actions contemplated in
have on small entities. A description of a routine management measure for the preferred alternative that have not
the action, why it is being considered, preventing the overfishing of any yet been implemented and which are
and the legal basis for this action are groundfish species by minimizing the not proposed to be implemented via this
contained in the preamble to this direct or incidental catch of that species, rule, such as vessel-specific bycatch
proposed rule. A summary of the and allow the use of depth-based closed caps, are not practicable at this time. All
analysis follows. areas a routine management measure for of the requirements in this action do not
As discussed earlier in this document, minimizing the bycatch of any increase the costs associated with
regulations beyond those applying to prohibited or protected species taken reporting, record-keeping, or other
the observer program would: require incidentally in the groundfish fishery compliance requirements directly.
that groundfish fishery management apply to all 1,700 vessels participating These requirements are: (1) groundfish
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measures take into account the co- in the West Coast commercial fishery management measures take into
occurrence ratios of overfished species groundfish fisheries. The regulations account the co-occurrence ratios of
with more abundant target stocks; allow that update the boundary definitions of overfished species with more abundant
the use of depth-based closed areas as the Klamath and Columbia River target stocks; (2) the allowance of the
a routine management measure for Salmon Conservation Zones and Eureka use of depth-based closed areas a
preventing the overfishing of any nearshore area apply to the 40–50 routine management measure for

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36514 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 123 / Tuesday, June 27, 2006 / Proposed Rules

preventing the overfishing of any both the Pacific whiting midwater trawl Dated: June 21, 2006.
groundfish species by minimizing the and groundfish bottom trawl fisheries. James W. Balsiger,
direct or incidental catch of that species; In its 2006 Supplemental Biological Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for
and 3) the allowance of the use of Opinion, NMFS concluded that catch Regulatory Programs, National Marine
depth-based closed areas as a routine rates of salmon in the 2005 whiting Fisheries Service.
management measure for minimizing fishery were consistent with For the reasons set out in the
the bycatch of any prohibited or expectations considered during prior preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is proposed
protected species taken incidentally in consultations. Chinook bycatch has to be amended as follows:
the groundfish fishery. However, rules averaged about 7,300 over the last 15
based on these provisions will, at some PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST
years and has only occasionally COAST STATES
future time, result in compliance
exceeded the reinitiation trigger of
requirements. When this occurs, those l. The authority citation for part 660
management measures will be analyzed 11,000. Since 1999, annual Chinook
bycatch has averaged about 8,450. The continues to read as follows:
as part of the applicable rulemaking
process. A copy of this analysis is Chinook ESUs most likely affected by Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). the whiting fishery has generally 2. In § 660.314, paragraphs (c)(2), and
NMFS issued Biological Opinions improved in status since the 1999 (f)(1)(v)(B) are revised to read as follows:
under the Endangered Species Act section 7 consultation. Although these
(ESA) on August 10, 1990, November species remain at risk, as indicated by § 660.314 Groundfish observer program.
26, 1991, August 28, 1992, September their ESA listing, NMFS concluded that * * * * *
27, 1993, May 14, 1996, and December the higher observed bycatch in 2005 (c) * * *
15, 1999, pertaining to the effects of the does not require a reconsideration of its (2) Catcher vessels. When NMFS
Pacific Coast groundfish FMP fisheries prior ‘‘no jeopardy’’ conclusion with notifies the vessel owner, operator,
on Chinook salmon (Puget Sound, respect to the fishery. For the permit holder, or the vessel manager of
Snake River spring/summer, Snake groundfish bottom trawl fishery, NMFS any requirement to carry an observer,
River fall, upper Columbia River spring, concluded that incidental take in the the vessel may not be used to fish in the
lower Columbia River, upper Willamette groundfish fisheries is within the EEZ without carrying an observer.
River, Sacramento River winter, Central (i) For the purposes of this section,
overall limits articulated in the
Valley spring, California coastal), coho catcher vessels include all of the
Incidental Take Statement of the 1999
salmon (Central California coastal, following vessels:
Biological Opinion. The groundfish (A) Any vessel registered for use with
southern Oregon/northern California
bottom trawl limit from that opinion a Pacific Coast groundfish limited entry
coastal), chum salmon (Hood Canal
summer, Columbia River), sockeye was 9,000 fish annually. NMFS will permit that fishes in state or Federal
salmon (Snake River, Ozette Lake), and continue to monitor and collect data to waters seaward of the baseline from
steelhead (upper, middle and lower analyze take levels. NMFS also which the territorial sea is measured off
Columbia River, Snake River Basin, reaffirmed its prior determination that the States of Washington, Oregon, or
upper Willamette River, central implementation of the Groundfish FMP California (0–200 nm offshore).
California coast, California Central is not likely to jeopardize the continued (B) Any vessel that is used to take and
Valley, south/central California, existence of any of the affected ESUs. retain, possess, or land groundfish in or
northern California, southern There are four groundfish treaty tribes from the EEZ.
California). These biological opinions operating off the U.S. West Coast: (C) Any vessel that is required to take
have concluded that implementation of a Federal observer by the applicable
Makah, Quileute, Hoh, and Quinault.
the FMP for the Pacific Coast groundfish state law.
Representatives of these tribes (ii) Notice of departure Basic rule. At
fishery was not expected to jeopardize participate in the Pacific Council
the continued existence of any least 24 hours (but not more than 36
process, and were part of the hours) before departing on a fishing trip,
endangered or threatened species under
development of Amendment 18 to the a vessel that has been notified by NMFS
the jurisdiction of NMFS, or result in
the destruction or adverse modification FMP. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act that it is required to carry an observer,
of critical habitat. at 16 U.S.C. 1852(b)(5), one of the voting or that is operating in an active
NMFS reinitiated a formal ESA members of the Pacific Council must be sampling unit, must notify NMFS (or its
section 7 consultation under the ESA in a representative of an Indian tribe with designated agent) of the vessel’s
2005 for both the Pacific whiting federally recognized fishing rights from intended time of departure. Notice will
midwater trawl fishery and the the area of the Council’s jurisdiction. In be given in a form to be specified by
groundfish bottom trawl fishery. The accordance with E.O. 13175, this NMFS.
December 19, 1999 Biological Opinion proposed rule was developed after (A) Optional notice Weather delays. A
had defined an 11,000 Chinook meaningful consultation and vessel that anticipates a delayed
incidental take threshold for the Pacific collaboration with the tribal departure due to weather or sea
whiting fishery. During the 2005 Pacific representative on the Pacific Council conditions may advise NMFS of the
whiting season, the 11,000 fish Chinook and with the tribal officials from the anticipated delay when providing the
incidental take threshold was exceeded, four groundfish treaty tribes affected by basic notice described in paragraph
triggering reinitiation. Also in 2005, this action. NMFS consulted and (c)(2)(i) of this section. If departure is
new data from the West Coast collaborated with tribal officials on this delayed beyond 36 hours from the time
Groundfish Observer Program became action both within the Pacific Council the original notice is given, the vessel
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available, allowing NMFS to complete process, and externally to that process. must provide an additional notice of
an analysis of salmon take in the bottom departure not less than 4 hours prior to
trawl fishery. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 departure, in order to enable NMFS to
NMFS prepared a Supplemental place an observer.
Biological Opinion dated March 11, Fisheries, Fishing, Indian fisheries. (B) Optional notice Back-to-back
2006, which addressed salmon take in fishing trips. A vessel that intends to

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make back-to-back fishing trips (i.e., yields (harvest guidelines and quotas), Salmon Conservation Zone is an area off
trips with less than 24 hours between commercial harvest guidelines and the northern California coast intended
offloading from one trip and beginning quotas, limited entry and open access to protect salmon from incidental catch
another), may provide the basic notice allocations, or other approved fishery in the whiting fishery. The Klamath
described in paragraph (c)(2)(i)) of this allocations, and to protect overfished River Conservation Zone is defined by
section for both trips, prior to making and depleted stocks. Management straight lines connecting the following
the first trip. A vessel that has given measures will be designed to take into specific latitude and longitude
such notice is not required to give account the co-occurrence ratios of coordinates in the order listed:
additional notice of the second trip. target species with overfished species, (i) 41°38.80′ N. lat., 124°07.49′ W.
(iii) Cease fishing report. Withing 24 and will select measures that will long.;
hours of ceasing fishing, vessel owners, minimize bycatch to the extent (ii) 41°38.80′ N. lat., 124°23.00′ W.
operators, or managers must notify practicable. long.;
NMFS or its designated agent that (c) * * * (iii) 41°26.80′ N. lat., 124°19.26′ W.
fishing has ceased. This requirement (3) All fisheries, all gear types, depth- long.;
applies to any vessel that is required to based management measures. Depth- (iv) 41°26.80’ N. lat., 124°03.80′ W.
carry an observer, or that is operating in based management measures, long.; and connecting back to 41°38.80′
a segment of the fleet that NMFS has particularly the setting of closed areas N. lat., 124°07.49′ W. long.
identified as an active sampling unit. known as Groundfish Conservation (2) Columbia River Salmon
* * * * * Areas, may be implemented in any Conservation Zone. The Columbia River
(f) * * * fishery that takes groundfish directly or Salmon Conservation Zone is an area off
(1) * * * incidentally. Depth-based management the northern Oregon and southern
(v) * * * measures are set using specific Washington coast intended to protect
(B) Annual general endorsements. boundary lines that approximate depth salmon from incidental catch in the
Each observer must obtain an annual contours with latitude/longitude whiting fishery. The Columbia River
general endorsement to their waypoints found at § 660.390–.394. Salmon Conservation Zone is defined by
certification prior to his or her first Depth-based management measures and straight lines connecting the following
deployment within any fishing year the setting of closed areas may be used: specific latitude and longitude
subsequent to a year in which a to protect and rebuild overfished stocks, coordinates in the order listed:
certification training endorsement is to prevent the overfishing of any (i) 46°18.00′ N. lat., 124°04.50′ W.
obtained. To obtain an annual general groundfish species by minimizing the long.;
endorsement, an observer must direct or incidental catch of that species, (ii) 46°18.00′ N. lat., 124°13.30′ W.
successfully complete the annual to minimize the incidental harvest of long.;
briefing, as specified by the Observer any protected or prohibited species (iii) 46°11.10′ N. lat., 124°11.00′ W.
Program. All briefing attendance, taken in the groundfish fishery, to long.;
performance, and conduct standards extend the fishing season; for the (iv) 46°13.58′ N. lat., 124°01.33′ W.
required by the Observer Program must commercial fisheries, to minimize long.; and connecting back to 46°18.00′
be met. disruption of traditional fishing and N. lat., 124°04.50′ W. long.
* * * * * marketing patterns; for the recreational (d) Eureka area trip limits. Trip
3. In § 660.370, paragraphs (b) and fisheries, to spread the available catch landing or frequency limits may be
(c)(3) are revised to read as follows: over a large number of anglers; to established, modified, or removed under
discourage target fishing while allowing § 660.370 or § 660.373, specifying the
§ 660.370 Specifications and management small incidental catches to be landed;
measures. amount of Pacific whiting that may be
and to allow small fisheries to operate taken and retained, possessed, or landed
* * * * * outside the normal season.
(b) Biennial actions. The Pacific Coast by a vessel that, at any time during a
* * * * * fishing trip within the Eureka
Groundfish fishery is managed on a 4. In § 660.373, paragraphs (c)(1),
biennial, calendar year basis. Harvest management area (from 43°00.00’’ to
(c)(2), and (d) are revised to read as 40°30.00’’ N. lat.) and shoreward of a
specifications and management follows:
measures will be announced biennially, boundary line approximating the 100 fm
with the harvest specifications for each § 660.373 Pacific whiting (whiting) fishery (183 m) depth contour, as defined with
species or species group set for two management. latitude/longitude coordinates at
sequential calendar years. In general, * * * * * § 660.393.
management measures are designed to (c) * * * * * * * *
achieve, but not exceed, the (1) Klamath River Salmon [FR Doc. E6–10114 Filed 6–26–06; 8:45 am]
specifications, particularly optimum Conservation Zone. The Klamath River BILLING CODE 3510–22–S
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