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Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 0910091344-9056-02]

RIN 0648-XL23

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 2009 and 2010 Final Harvest Specifications for Groundfish

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Final rule; closures.
SUMMARY: NMFS announces 2009 and 2010 final harvest specifications, reserves and apportionments thereof, Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits, and associated management measures for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits and associated management measures for groundfish during the 2009 and 2010 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
DATES: Effective at 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), February 17, 2009, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2010.
ADDRESSES: Copies of the Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD), and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) prepared for this action are available from the Alaska Region, NMFS, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802, Attn: Ellen Sebastian, or from the Alaska Region Web site athttp://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.Copies of the final 2008 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2008, are available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99510-2252, phone 907-271-2809, or from its Web site athttp://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Pearson, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, 907-481-1780, or e-mail attom.pearson@noaa.gov.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the FMP. The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801et seq.Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680.

The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify and apportion the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species and for the “other species” category, and the sum of which must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt). The final specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 27 of this document satisfy this requirement. For 2009, the sum of the TAC amounts is 242,727 mt. For 2010, the sum of the TAC amounts is 284,688 mt.

50 CFR 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs, halibut PSC amounts, and seasonal allowances of pollock and inshore/offshore Pacific cod. The proposed GOA groundfish specifications and Pacific halibut PSC allowances for 2009 and 2010 were published in theFederal Registeron December 2, 2008 (73 FR 73222). Comments were invited and accepted through January 2, 2009. NMFS received one letter of comment on the proposed specifications. This letter of comment is summarized in the Response to Comments section of this action. In December 2008, NMFS consulted with the Council regarding the 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications. After considering public comments received, as well as biological and economic data that were available at the Council's December 2008 meeting, NMFS is implementing the 2009 and 2010 final harvest specifications, as recommended by the Council.

Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications

In December 2008, the Council, its Advisory Panel (AP), and its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), reviewed current biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the Council's GOA Plan Team and was presented in the final 2008 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2008 (seeADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of each species' biomass and other biological parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates an ABC for each species or species category.

The final ABC levels are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute ABCs and overfishing levels (OFLs). The formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information available to fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers with tier one representing the highest level of information quality available and tier six the lowest level of information quality available.

The final TAC recommendations were based on the ABCs as adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the sum of all TACs within the required OY range of 116,000 to 800,000 mt. The Council adopted the AP's TAC recommendations. The Council recommended TACs for 2009 and 2010 that are equal to ABCs for pollock, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, sablefish, Pacific ocean perch, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, northern rockfish, pelagic shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, big skate, longnose skate, and other skates. The Council recommended TACs for 2009 and 2010 that are less than the ABCs for Pacific cod, flathead sole, shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, other rockfish, Atka mackerel, and “other species.” None of the Council's recommended TACs for 2009 and 2010 exceeds the final ABC for any species or species category. The 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications approved by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) are unchanged from those recommended by the Council and are consistent with the preferred harvest strategy alternative in the Final EIS. NMFS finds that the Council's recommended ABCs, OFLs, and TACs are consistent with the biological condition of the groundfish stocks as described in the 2008 SAFE report andapproved by the Council. NMFS also finds that the Council's recommendations for OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the OY range. NMFS reviewed the Council's recommended TAC specifications and apportionments and approves these specifications under 50 CFR 679.20(c)(3)(ii). The apportionment of TAC amounts among gear types, processing sectors, and seasons is discussed below.

Tables 1 and 2 list the final 2009 and 2010 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. The sums of the 2009 and 2010 ABCs are 516,055 mt and 562,762 mt, respectively, which are lower in 2009 and higher in 2010 than the 2008 ABC sum of 536,201 mt (73 FR 10562, February 27, 2008).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

As in 2008, the SSC and Council recommended that the method of apportioning the sablefish ABC among management areas in 2009 and 2010 include commercial fishery and survey data. NMFS stock assessment scientists believe the use of unbiased commercial fishery data reflecting catch-per-unit-effort provides a desirable input for stock distribution assessments. NMFS evaluates the use of commercial fishery data annually to ensure unbiased information is included in stock distribution models. The Council's recommendation for sablefish area apportionments also takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the Southeast Outside (SEO) District of the Eastern Regulatory Area and makes available 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area ABCs to trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other directed groundfish fisheries in the West Yakutat (WYK) District (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)).

Since the inception of a State of Alaska (State) managed pollock fishery in Prince William Sound (PWS), the GOA Plan Team has recommended the guideline harvest level (GHL) for the pollock fishery in PWS be deducted from the ABC for the western stock of pollock in the GOA in the Western/Central/West Yakutat (W/C/WYK) Area. For the 2009 and 2010 pollock fisheries in PWS, the State's GHL is 1,650 mt.

The apportionment of annual pollock TAC among the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA reflects the seasonal biomass distribution and is discussed in greater detail below. The annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, as well as equally among each of the following four seasons: the A season (January 20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), the C season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 through November 1) (50 CFR 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv) and 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)).

The SSC, AP, and Council adopted the Plan Team's OFL and ABC recommendations for all groundfish species, complexes, and categories.

The SSC, AP, and Council recommended apportionment of the ABC for Pacific cod in the GOA among regulatory areas based on the three most recent NMFS summer trawl surveys.

The 2009 and 2010 Pacific cod TACs are affected by the State's fishery for Pacific cod in State waters in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas, as well as in PWS. The SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals not exceed the ABC. Accordingly, the Council recommended reducing the 2009 and 2010 Pacific cod TACs from the ABCs in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. Therefore, the 2009 Pacific cod TACs are less than the ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Eastern GOA, 221 mt; (2) Central GOA, 7,880 mt; and (3) Western GOA, 5,392 mt; the 2010 Pacific cod TACs are less than the ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Eastern GOA, 318 mt; (2) Central GOA, 11,329 mt; and (3) Western GOA, 7,751 mt. These amounts reflect the sum of the State's 2009 and 2010 GHLs in these areas, which are 10 percent, 25 percent, and 25 percent of the Eastern, Central, and Western GOA ABCs, respectively. The percentages of the ABCs used to calculate the 2009 and 2010 GHLs for the State managed Pacific cod fisheries are unchanged from 2008.

NMFS also is establishing seasonal apportionments of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty 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. 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 (50 CFR 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)).

As in 2008, NMFS establishes for 2009 and 2010 an A season directed fishing allowance (DFA) for the Pacific cod fisheries in the GOA based on the management area TACs minus the recent average A season incidental catch of Pacific cod in each management area before June 10 (§ 679.20(d)(1)). The DFA and incidental catch before June 10 will be managed such that total harvest in the A season will be no more than 60 percent of the annual TAC. Incidental catch taken after June 10 will continue to accrue against the B season TAC. This action meets the intent of the Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures by achieving temporal dispersion of the Pacific cod removals and by reducing the likelihood of harvest exceeding 60 percent of the annual TAC in the A season (January 1 through June 10 for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear; January 20 through June 10 for trawl gear). The seasonal apportionments of the annual Pacific cod TAC are discussed in greater detail below.

Other Actions Affecting the 2009 and 2010 Harvest Specifications

Amendment 79 to the GOA FMP was approved by the Secretary on August 20, 2008 (73 FR 49963, August 25, 2008). Amendment 79 requires that aggregate OFL, ABC, and TAC levels for the “other species” category be established as part of the annual groundfish harvest specification process. Previously only an annual TAC was established. NMFS is implementing an OFL of 8,720 mt and an ABC of 6,540 mt for 2009 and 2010 (see Tables 1 and 2). Stock assessments for the major taxonomic groups which comprise the “other species” category (sharks, sculpins, squid, and octopus) are included in 2008 SAFE report.

Following the publication of a proposed rule (73 FR 55010, September 24, 2008) and comment period to implement Amendment 77 to the GOA FMP the Secretary approved Amendment 77 on December 15, 2008 and NMFS published a final rule implementing the amendment on December 31, 2008 (73 FR 80307). Amendment 77 removed dark rockfish from the pelagic shelf rockfish (PSR) complex in the GOA FMP in order to allow the State of Alaska (State) to assume management of dark rockfish beginning in 2009. This action was necessary to allow the State to implement more responsive, regionally-based management measures than are currently possible under the FMP. The effect of removing dark rockfish from the PSR complex is to reduce the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for the PSR complex in these harvest specifications. Compared to the final 2008 harvest specifications the OFL is reduced from 6,400 mt in 2008 to 5,803 mt in 2009 and to 5,420 mt in 2010. Compared to the final 2008harvest specifications the ABCs and TACs are reduced from 5,227 mt in 2008 to 4,781 mt in 2009 and to 4,465 mt in 2010 (see Tables 1 and 2). The final 2008 SAFE report accounted for the removal of dark rockfish from the PSR complex. Based on the approval of Amendment 77, the Council recommended final 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications for GOA groundfish.

Changes From the Proposed 2009 and 2010 Harvest Specifications in the GOA

In October 2008, the Council's recommendations for the proposed 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications (73 FR 73222, December 2, 2008) were based largely upon information contained in the final 2007 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2007 (see ADDRESSES). The Council recommended that the proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs established for the groundfish fisheries in 2009 (73 FR 10562, February 27, 2008 see Table 2) be rolled over to 2009 and 2010, with the exception of sablefish and “other species” pending completion and review of the 2008 SAFE report at its December 2008 meeting.

The 2008 SAFE report, which was not available when the Council made its recommendations in October 2008, contains the best and most recent scientific information on the condition of the groundfish stocks. This report was considered in December 2008 by the Council when it made recommendations for the final 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications. Based on the final 2008 SAFE report, the sum of the 2009 final TACs for the GOA (242,727 mt) is 36,537 mt lower than the sum of the proposed 2009 TACs (279,264 mt). The largest 2009 decreases occurred for pollock, from 78,170 mt to 49,900 mt (36 percent decrease); for Pacific cod, from 50,269 mt to 41,807 mt (17 percent decrease); for sablefish, from 11,633 mt to 11,160 mt (4 percent decrease); for pelagic shelf rockfish, from 5,140 mt to 4,781 mt (7 percent decrease); and for demersal shelf rockfish, from 382 mt to 362 mt (5 percent decrease). The largest increases occurred for rex sole, from 8,468 mt to 8,996 mt (6 percent increase) and for Atka mackerel, from 1,500 mt to 2,000 mt (33 percent increase). Other increases or decreases in 2009 are within 2 percent of the proposed specifications.

The sum of the 2010 final TACs for the GOA (284,688 mt) is 5,424 mt higher than the sum of the proposed 2010 TACs (279,264 mt). The largest 2010 decreases occurred for pollock, from 78,170 mt to 74,330 mt (5 percent decrease); for sablefish, from 11,633 mt to 10,337 mt (11 percent decrease), for pelagic shelf rockfish, from 5,140 mt to 4,465 (13 percent decrease); and for demersal shelf rockfish, from 382 mt to 362 mt (5 percent decrease). The largest increases occurred for Pacific cod from 50,269 mt to 60,102 (20 percent increase); for deep-water flatfish from 9,172 mt to 9,793 (7 percent increase); for rex sole, from 8,468 mt to 8,827 mt (4 percent increase); and for Atka mackerel, from 1,500 mt to 2,000 mt (33 percent increase). Other increases or decreases in 2010 are within 2 percent of the proposed specifications.

Compared to the proposed 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications, the Council's final 2009 and 2010 TAC recommendations increase fishing opportunities for species for which the Council had sufficient information to raise TAC levels. For 2009, these include rex sole, Pacific ocean perch, and Atka mackerel. For 2010, TACs were increased for Pacific cod, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, flathead sole, Pacific ocean perch, and Atka mackerel. Conversely, the Council reduced TAC levels to provide greater protection for some species. In 2009, TACs were reduced for pollock, Pacific cod, sablefish, pelagic shelf rockfish, and demersal shelf rockfish. In 2010, TACs were again reduced for pollock, sablefish, pelagic shelf rockfish, and demersal shelf rockfish. The changes in the final rule from the proposed rule are based on the most recent scientific information and implement the harvest strategy described in the proposed rule for the harvest specifications. Tables 1 and 2 list the 2009 and 2010 final OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts for GOA groundfish, respectively.

Table 1—Final 2009 ABCs, TACs, and OFLs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat (W/C/WYK), Western (W), Central (C), Eastern (E) Regulatory Areas, and in the West Yakutat (WYK), Southeast Outside (SEO), and Gulfwide (GW) Districts of the Gulf of Alaska [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area/district1 ABC TAC OFL Pollock2 Shumagin (610) 15,249 15,249 n/a Chirikof (620) 14,098 14,098 n/a Kodiak (630) 11,058 11,058 n/a WYK (640) 1,215 1,215 n/a Subtotal W/C/WYK 41,620 41,620 58,590 SEO (650) 8,280 8,280 11,040 Total 49,900 49,900 69,630 Pacific cod3 W 21,567 16,175 n/a C 31,521 23,641 n/a E 2,212 1,991 n/a Total 55,300 41,807 66,600 Flatfish4(deep-water) W 706 706 n/a C 6,927 6,927 n/a WYK 997 997 n/a SEO 538 538 n/a Total 9,168 9,168 11,578 Rex sole W 1,007 1,007 n/a C 6,630 6,630 n/a WYK 513 513 n/a SEO 846 846 n/a Total 8,996 8,996 11,756 Flathead sole W 13,010 2,000 n/a C 29,273 5,000 n/a WYK 3,531 3,531 n/a SEO 650 650 n/a Total 46,464 11,181 57,911 Flatfish5(shallow-water) W 26,360 4,500 n/a C 29,873 13,000 n/a WYK 3,333 3,333 n/a SEO 1,423 1,423 n/a Total 60,989 22,256 74,364 Arrowtooth flounder W 30,148 8,000 n/a C 164,251 30,000 n/a WYK 14,908 2,500 n/a SEO 12,205 2,500 n/a Total 221,512 43,000 261,022 Sablefish6 W 1,640 1,640 n/a C 4,990 4,990 n/a WYK 1,784 1,784 n/a SEO 2,746 2,746 n/a Subtotal E (WYK and SEO) 4,530 4,530 n/a Total 11,160 11,160 13,190 Pacific ocean perch7 W 3,713 3,713 4,409 C 8,246 8,246 9,790 WYK 1,108 1,108 n/a SEO 2,044 2,044 n/a Subtotal E (WYK and SEO) 3,152 3,152 3,741 Total 15,111 15,111 17,940 Shortraker rockfish8 W 120 120 n/a C 315 315 n/a E 463 463 n/a Total 898 898 1,197 Rougheye rockfish9 W 125 125 n/a C 833 833 n/a E 326 326 n/a Total 1,284 1,284 1,545 Other rockfish10 11 W 357 357 n/a C 569 569 n/a WYK 604 604 n/a SEO 2,767 200 n/a Total 4,297 1,730 5,624 Northern rockfish11 12 W 2,054 2,054 n/a C 2,308 2,308 n/a E 0 0 n/a Total 4,362 4,362 5,204 Pelagic shelf rockfish13 W 819 819 n/a C 3,404 3,404 n/a WYK 234 234 n/a SEO 324 324 n/a Total 4,781 4,781 5,803 Thornyhead rockfish W 267 267 n/a C 860 860 n/a E 783 783 n/a Total 1,910 1,910 2,540 Big skates14 W 632 632 n/a C 2,065 2,065 n/a E 633 633 n/a Total 3,330 3,330 4,439 Longnose skates15 W 78 78 n/a C 2,041 2,041 n/a E 768 768 n/a Total 2,887 2,887 3,849 Other skates16 GW 2,104 2,104 2,806 Demersal shelf rockfish17 SEO 362 362 580 Atka mackerel GW 4,700 2,000 6,200 Other species18 GW 6,540 4,500 8,720 Total 516,055 242,727 632,498 1Regulatory areas and districts are defined at 50 CFR 679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide). 2Pollock is apportioned in the Western/Central Regulatory Areas among three statistical areas. During the A season, the apportionment is based on an adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 32 percent, 43 percent, and 25 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. During the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 32 percent, 54 percent, and 14 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. During the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 43 percent, 21 percent, and 35 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. Tables 5 and 6 list the 2009 and 2010 seasonal apportionments of pollock. In the WYK District and SEO Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60 percent to an A season and 40 percent to a B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod is allocated 90 percent for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Tables 7 and 8 list the 2009 and 2010 seasonal apportionments and component allocations of the Pacific cod TAC. 4“Deep-water flatfish” means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, and deepsea sole. 5“Shallow-water flatfish” means flatfish not including “deep water flatfish,” flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 6Sablefish is allocated to trawl and hook-and-line gears for 2008 and to trawl gear in 2009. Tables 3 and 4 list the 2008 and 2009 allocations of sablefish. 7“Pacific ocean perch” meansSebastes alutus. 8“Shortraker rockfish” meansSebastes borealis. 9“Rougheye rockfish” meansSebastes aleutianus(rougheye) andSebastes melanostictus(blackspotted). 10“Other rockfish” in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the WYK District means slope rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The category “other rockfish” in the SEO District means slope rockfish. 11“Slope rockfish” meansSebastes aurora(aurora),S. melanostomus(blackgill),S. paucispinis(bocaccio),S. goodei(chilipepper),S. crameri(darkblotch),S. elongatus(greenstriped),S. variegatus(harlequin),S. wilsoni(pygmy),S. babcocki(redbanded),S. proriger(redstripe),S. zacentrus(sharpchin),S. jordani(shortbelly),S. brevispinis(silvergrey),S. diploproa(splitnose),S. saxicola(stripetail),S. miniatus(vermilion), andS. reedi(yellowmouth). In the Eastern Regulatory Area only, slope rockfish also includes northern rockfish,S. polyspinis. 12“Northern rockfish” meansSebastes polyspinis.The 2 mt ABC for northern rockfish in the Eastern Regulatory Area has been combined with the ABC for slope rockfish in the WYK District. 13“Pelagic shelf rockfish” meansSebastes variabilis(dusky),S. entomelas(widow), andS. flavidus(yellowtail). 14Big skate meansRaja binoculata. 15Longnose skate meansRaja rhina. 16Other skates meansBathyrajaspp. 17“Demersal shelf rockfish” meansSebastes pinniger(canary),S. nebulosus(china),S. caurinus(copper),S. maliger(quillback),S. helvomaculatus(rosethorn),S. nigrocinctus(tiger), andS. ruberrimus(yelloweye). 18“Other species” means sculpins, sharks, squid, and octopus.
Table 2—Final 2010 ABCs, TACs, and OFLs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat (W/C/WYK), Western (W), Central (C), Eastern (E) Regulatory Areas, and in the West Yakutat (WYK), Southeast Outside (SEO), and Gulfwide (GW) Districts of the Gulf of Alaska [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area/district1 ABC TAC OFL Pollock2 Shumagin (610) 24,199 24,199 n/a Chirikof (620) 22,374 22,374 n/a Kodiak (630) 17,548 17,548 n/a WYK (640) 1,929 1,929 n/a Subtotal W/C/WYK 66,050 66,050 90,920 SEO (650) 8,280 8,280 11,040 Total 74,330 74,330 101,960 Pacific cod3 W 31,005 23,254 n/a C 45,315 33,986 n/a E 3,180 2,862 n/a Total 79,500 60,102 126,000 Flatfish4(deep-water) W 747 747 n/a C 7,405 7,405 n/a WYK 1,066 1,066 n/a SEO 575 575 n/a Total 9,793 9,793 12,367 Rex sole W 988 988 n/a C 6,506 6,506 n/a WYK 503 503 n/a SEO 830 830 n/a Total 8,827 8,827 11,535 Flathead sole W 13,342 2,000 n/a C 30,021 5,000 n/a WYK 3,622 3,622 n/a SEO 667 667 n/a Total 47,652 11,289 59,349 Flatfish5(shallow-water) W 26,360 4,500 n/a C 29,873 13,000 n/a WYK 3,333 3,333 n/a SEO 1,423 1,423 n/a Total 60,989 22,256 74,364 Arrowtooth flounder W 29,843 8,000 n/a C 162,591 30,000 n/a WYK 14,757 2,500 n/a SEO 12,082 2,500 n/a Total 219,273 43,000 258,397 Sablefish6 W 1,523 1,523 n/a C 4,625 4,625 n/a WYK 1,645 1,645 n/a SEO 2,544 2,544 n/a Subtotal E (WYK and SEO) 4,189 4,189 n/a Total 10,337 10,337 12,321 Pacific ocean perch7 W 3,710 3,710 4,405 C 8,239 8,239 9,782 WYK 1,107 1,107 n/a SEO 2,042 2,042 n/a Subtotal E (WYK and SEO) 3,149 3,149 3,738 Total 15,098 15,098 17,925 Shortraker rockfish8 W 120 120 n/a C 315 315 n/a E 463 463 n/a Total 898 898 1,197 Rougheye rockfish9 W 126 126 n/a C 842 842 n/a E 329 329 n/a Total 1,297 1,297 1,562 Other rockfish10 11 W 357 357 n/a C 569 569 n/a WYK 604 604 n/a SEO 2,767 200 n/a Total 4,297 1,730 5,624 Northern rockfish11 12 W 1,965 1,965 n/a C 2,208 2,208 n/a E 0 0 n/a Total 4,173 4,173 4,979 Pelagic shelf rockfish13 W 765 765 n/a C 3,179 3,179 n/a WYK 219 219 n/a SEO 302 302 n/a Total 4,465 4,465 5,420 Thornyhead rockfish W 267 267 n/a C 860 860 n/a E 783 783 n/a Total 1,910 1,910 2,540 Big skates14 W 632 632 n/a C 2,065 2,065 n/a E 633 633 n/a Total 3,330 3,330 4,439 Longnose skates15 W 78 78 n/a C 2,041 2,041 n/a E 768 768 n/a Total 2,887 2,887 3,849 Other skates16 GW 2,104 2,104 2,806 Demersal shelf rockfish17 SEO 362 362 580 Atka mackerel GW 4,700 2,000 6,200 Other species18 GW 6,540 4,500 8,720 Total 562,762 284,688 722,134 1Regulatory areas and districts are defined at 50 CFR 679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide). 2Pollock is apportioned in the Western/Central Regulatory Areas among three statistical areas. During the A season, the apportionment is based on an adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 32 percent, 43 percent, and 25 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. During the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 32 percent, 54 percent, and 14 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. During the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 43 percent, 21 percent, and 35 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. Tables 5 and 6 list the 2009 and 2010 seasonal apportionments of pollock. In the WYK District and SEO Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60 percent to an A season and 40 percent to a B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod is allocated 90 percent for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Tables 7 and 8 list the 2009 and 2010 seasonal apportionments and component allocations of the Pacific cod TAC. 4“Deep-water flatfish” means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, and deepsea sole. 5“Shallow-water flatfish” means flatfish not including “deep water flatfish,” flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 6Sablefish is allocated to trawl and hook-and-line gears for 2008 and to trawl gear in 2009. Tables 3 and 4 list the 2008 and 2009 allocations of sablefish. 7“Pacific ocean perch” meansSebastes alutus. 8“Shortraker rockfish” meansSebastes borealis. 9“Rougheye rockfish” meansSebastes aleutianus(rougheye) andSebastes melanostictus(blackspotted). 10“Other rockfish” in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the WYK District means slope rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The category “other rockfish” in the SEO District means slope rockfish. 11“Slope rockfish” meansSebastes aurora(aurora),S. melanostomus(blackgill),S. paucispinis(bocaccio),S. goodei(chilipepper),S. crameri(darkblotch),S. elongatus(greenstriped),S. variegatus(harlequin),S. wilsoni(pygmy),S. babcocki(redbanded),S. proriger(redstripe),S. zacentrus(sharpchin),S. jordani(shortbelly),S. brevispinis(silvergrey),S. diploproa(splitnose),S. saxicola(stripetail),S. miniatus(vermilion), andS. reedi(yellowmouth). In the Eastern Regulatory Area only, slope rockfish also includes northern rockfish,S. polyspinis. 12“Northern rockfish” meansSebastes polyspinis.The 2 mt ABC for northern rockfish in the Eastern Regulatory Area has been combined with the ABC for slope rockfish in the WYK District. 13“Pelagic shelf rockfish” meansSebastes variabilis(dusky),S. entomelas(widow), andS. flavidus(yellowtail). 14Big skate meansRaja binoculata. 15Longnose skate meansRaja rhina. 16Other skates meansBathyraja spp. 17“Demersal shelf rockfish” meansSebastes pinniger(canary),S. nebulosus(china),S. caurinus(copper),S. maliger(quillback),S. helvomaculatus(rosethorn),S. nigrocinctus(tiger), andS. ruberrimus(yelloweye). 18“Other species” means sculpins, sharks, squid, and octopus. Apportionment of Reserves

Section 679.20(b)(2) requires 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, and the “other species” category be set aside in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing year. In 2008, NMFS reapportioned all the reserves in the final harvest specifications. For 2009 and 2010, NMFS proposed reapportionment of all the reserves in the proposed 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications published in theFederal Registeron December 2, 2008 (73 FR 73222). NMFS received no public comments on the proposed reapportionments. For the final 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications, NMFS reapportioned as proposed all the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, and “other species.” Specifications of TAC shown in Tables 1 and 2 reflect reapportionment of reserve amounts for these species and species groups.

Allocations of the Sablefish TAC Amounts to Vessels Using Hook-and-Line and Trawl Gear

Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to hook-and-line and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern Regulatory Area may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish in directed fisheries for other target species (§ 679.20(a)(1)). In recognition of the trawl ban in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and NMFS concurs with the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District and the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC be available to vessels using hook-and-line gear. As a result, NMFS allocates 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line gear. The Council recommended that the hook-and-line sablefish TAC be established annually to ensure that the Individual Fishery Quota (IFQ) fishery is conducted concurrent with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on the most recent survey information. This recommendation results in an allocation of 227 mt to trawl gear and 1,557 mt to hook-and-line gear in the WYK District in 2009, an allocation of 2,746 mt to hook-and-line gear in the SEO District in 2009, and 209 mt to trawl gear in the WYK District in 2010. Table 3 lists the allocations of the 2009 sablefish TACs to hook-and-line and trawl gear. Table 4 lists the allocations of the 2010 sablefish TACs to trawl gear. The Council recommended that only a trawl sablefish TAC be established for two years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish harvest specifications. However, since there is an annual assessment for sablefish and the final specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season begins, the industry and Council recommended that the sablefish TAC be set on an annual basis so that the best and most recent scientific information could be considered in recommending the ABCs and TACs. Since sablefish is on bycatch status for trawl gear the entire fishing year and given that fishing for groundfish is prohibited prior to January 20, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the effective date of the final harvest specifications.

Table 3—Final 2009 Sablefish TAC Specifications in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocations to Hook-and-Line and Trawl Gear [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/District TAC Hook-and-line
  • apportionment
  • Trawl
  • apportionment
  • Western 1,640 1,312 328 Central 4,990 3,992 998 West Yakutat1 1,784 1,557 227 Southeast Outside 2,746 2,746 0 Total 11,160 9,607 1,55