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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. 120918468-2468-01]

RIN 0648-XC254

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Proposed 2013 and 2014 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.
SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2013 and 2014 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. 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: Comments must be received by January 4, 2013.
ADDRESSES: *Electronic Submissions:Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal atwww.regulations.gov.To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the "submit a comment" icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2012-0180 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and click on the "Submit a Comment" icon on that line.

*Mail:Address written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.

*Fax:Address written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Fax comments to: (907) 586-7557.

*Hand delivery to the Federal Building:Address written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Deliver comments to 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK.

Instructions:Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing onwww.regulations.govwithout change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible.

Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter "N/A" in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained fromhttp://www.regulations.govor from the Alaska Region Web site athttp://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.The final 2011 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2011, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501, phone 907-271-2809, or from the Council's Web site athttp://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc.The draft 2012 SAFE report for the GOA is available from the same source.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907-586-7228.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (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. 1801,et 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 the total allowable catch (TAC) limits for each target species, the sum of which must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs, halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. The proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 20 of this document satisfy these requirements. For 2013 and 2014, the sum of the proposed TAC amounts is 447,752 mt.

Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (seeDATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 2012 meeting, and (3) considering information presented in the Final EIS (seeADDRESSES) and the final 2012 SAFE report prepared for the 2013 and 2014 groundfish fisheries.

Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2013 and 2014 Harvest Specifications Halibut Prohibited Species Catch Limits Revisions

At its June 2012 meeting, the Council took final action to reduce halibut PSC limits in the GOA trawl and hook-and-line groundfish fisheries. The Council's preferred alternative for Amendment 95 to the GOA FMP would change the process for setting halibut PSC limits. Halibut PSC limits would be established in Federal regulations and would remain in effect until changed by a subsequent Council action to amend those regulations.

If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, Amendment 95 would reduce the GOA halibut PSC limit for the groundfish trawl gear sector and groundfish catcher vessel (CV) hook-and-line gear sector by 15 percent. The Council's proposed reduction would be phased in over 3 years: 7 percent in year 1, 5 percent in year 2 (to 12 percent), and 3 percent in year 3 (for a total of 15 percent). The Council's proposed reduction for the catcher/processor (C/P) hook-and-line gear sector would be 7 percent, which would be implemented in one step in year 1. The Council used 1,973 mt as the baseline for the proposed trawl halibut PSC limit reductions. This is based on a deduction of 27 mt from the 2,000 mt trawl halibut PSC limit, per halibut PSC limit reductions made in conjunction with the implementation of the Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program in 2011 (76 FR 81248, December 27, 2011). The Council recommended that the first year of implementation would occur in 2014 and that all reductions would occur by 2016.

Amendment 95 would result in a new trawl sector halibut PSC limit of 1,848 mt (in 2014), 1,759 mt (in 2015), and 1,705 mt (in 2016 and later years). The hook-and-line sector halibut PSC limits may vary annually, as these limits are based on how the Pacific cod TAC is annually apportioned between the Central and Western regulatory areas of the GOA. Based on 2012 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA the hook-and-line C/P sector would receive a 109 mt halibut PSC limit. The hook-and-line CV sector PSC limit would be 161 mt (in 2014), 152 mt (in 2015), and 147 mt (in 2016 and later years).

Proposed Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications

In October 2012, the Council, its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and its Advisory Panel (AP) reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the GOA Groundfish Plan Team and presented in the final 2011 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2011 (seeADDRESSES). The amounts proposed for the 2013 and 2014 ABCs are based on the 2011 SAFE report, as discussed below. The AP and Council recommended that the proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs be set equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of the species categories further discussed below. The proposed ABCs and TACs could be changed in the final harvest specifications depending on the most recent scientific information contained in the final 2012 SAFE report. 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 anOFL and ABC for each species or species group.

In November 2012, the Plan Team updated the 2011 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2012, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team compiled this information and produced the draft 2012 SAFE report for presentation at the December 2012 Council meeting. At that meeting, the Council will consider information in the draft 2012 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2012 Plan Team meeting and December 2012 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written public comments in making its recommendations for the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications. Pursuant to section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if “warranted on the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic considerations, or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to fall within the OY range.”

In previous years, the largest changes from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been for OFLs and ABCs based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys, which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used for making stock assessments. NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results, changes to assessment models, and accompanying stock estimates at the September 2012 Plan Team meeting, and the SSC reviewed this information at the October 2012 Council meeting. The species with possible model changes are Pacific cod, rex sole, dover sole, rock sole, sharks, and octopus. In November 2012, the Plan Team considered updated stock assessments for groundfish, which were included in the draft 2012 SAFE report.

If the draft 2012 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for that species may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. The draft 2012 SAFE reports indicate that the biomass trend for octopuses may be increasing. Conversely, if the draft 2012 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications. The draft 2012 SAFE reports indicate that the biomass trend for pollock, Pacific cod, sablefish, northern rockfish, other rockfish, and dusky rockfish may be decreasing. The biomass trends for the following species are relatively stable: shallow-water flatfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Pacific ocean perch, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, rougheye rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, Atka mackerel, big skate, longnose skates, other skates, squids, sharks, and sculpins.

The proposed ABCs and TACs 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 OFLs. The formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information available to the fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts, with tier one representing the highest level of information quality available and tier six representing the lowest level of information quality available.

The SSC adopted the proposed 2013 and 2014 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The Council adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP's TAC recommendations. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2013 harvest specifications published in theFederal Registeron March 14, 2012 (77 FR 15194).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

The Council recommended proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs that are equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, other rockfish, and Atka mackerel. The Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State of Alaska's (State) guideline harvest levels (GHL) for Pacific cod so that the ABCs are not exceeded. The flathead sole, shallow-water flatfish, and arrowtooth flounder TACs are set to conserve the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The other rockfish TAC is set to reduce the potential amount of discards in the Southeast Outside (SEO) District. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts of this species in other directed fisheries.

The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat Regulatory Areas (W/C/WYK) has been adjusted to reflect the GHL established by the State for the Prince William Sound (PWS) pollock fishery since its inception in 1995. Genetic studies revealed that the pollock in PWS was not a separate stock from the combined W/C/WYK population. Accordingly, the Council recommended decreasing the W/C/WYK pollock ABC to account for the State's PWS GHL. For 2013 and 2014, the PWS GHL for pollock is 2,770 mt, per the recommendation of State of Alaska fisheries managers.

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, and divided 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) (§ 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Table 2 lists these amounts.

The AP, SSC, 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 proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod TACs are affected by the State's GHL fishery for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in PWS. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the Council recommended reducing the proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod TACs from the proposed ABCs for the Eastern, Central, and Western Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. Therefore, the proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod TACs are less than the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Eastern GOA, 683 mt; (2) Central GOA, 14,788 mt; and (3) Western GOA, 7,280 mt. These amounts reflect the sum of the State's 2013 and 2014 GHLs in these areas, which are 25 percent of the Eastern, Central, and Western GOA proposed ABCs. These are the same percentage amounts used to apportion the Pacific cod ABCs to State waters GHLs that were used in 2012.

NMFS also is proposing seasonal apportionments of the annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-line, pot, or jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and fortrawl gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the B season for jig gear from June 10 through December 31, for hook-and-line or pot gear from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 (§§ 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)).

The Council's recommendation for sablefish area apportionments also takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area and makes available five percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area TACs to trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other directed groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). Tables 4 and 5 list these amounts.

The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 447,752 mt for 2013 and 2014, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. The sums of the proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs are higher than the final 2012 TACs currently specified for the GOA groundfish fisheries (77 FR 15194, March 14, 2012). The proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs for pollock, Pacific cod, flathead sole, and rougheye rockfish are higher than the final 2012 TACs for these species. The proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs for sablefish, shallow-water flatfish, rex sole, Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish are lower than the final 2012 TACs for these species. The proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs are equal to the final 2012 TACs for the remaining species.

For 2013 and 2014, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. The sum of the proposed 2013 and 2014 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 612,506 mt, which is higher than the final 2012 ABC total of 606,048 mt (77 FR 15194, March 14, 2012).

Table 1 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. These amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2011 SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the required OY range. These proposed amounts and apportionments by area, season, and sector are subject to change pending consideration of the draft 2012 SAFE report and the Council's recommendations for the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications during its December 2012 meeting.

Table 1—Proposed 2013 and 2014 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 Area1 OFL ABC TAC Pollock2 Shumagin (610) n/a 32,816 32,816 Chirikof (620) n/a 49,662 49,662 Kodiak (630) n/a 28,565 28,565 WYK (640) n/a 3,517 3,517 W/C/WYK (subtotal) 155,402 114,560 114,560 SEO (650) 14,366 10,774 10,774 Total 169,768 125,334 125,334 Pacific cod3 W n/a 29,120 21,840 C n/a 59,150 44,363 E n/a 2,730 2,047 Total 108,000 91,000 68,250 Sablefish4 W n/a 1,757 1,757 C n/a 5,686 5,686 WYK n/a 2,219 2,219 SEO n/a 3,132 3,132 E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) n/a 5,351 5,351 Total 15,129 12,794 12,794 Shallow-water flatfish6 W n/a 20,171 13,250 C n/a 21,012 18,000 WYK n/a 3,950 3,950 SEO n/a 1,350 1,350 Total 56,781 46,483 36,550 Deep-water flatfish5 W n/a 176 176 C n/a 2,308 2,308 WYK n/a 1,581 1,581 SEO n/a 1,061 1,061 Total 6,834 5,126 5,126 Rex sole W n/a 1,283 1,283 C n/a 6,291 6,291 WYK n/a 821 821 SEO n/a 1,037 1,037 Total 12,326 9,432 9,432 Arrowtooth flounder W n/a 27,386 14,500 C n/a 142,591 75,000 WYK n/a 21,074 6,900 SEO n/a 20,982 6,900 Total 249,066 212,033 103,300 Flathead sole W n/a 15,518 8,650 C n/a 26,205 15,400 WYK n/a 4,623 4,623 SEO n/a 1,735 1,735 Total 60,219 48,081 30,408 Pacific ocean perch7 W 2,364 2,050 2,050 C 12,662 10,985 10,985 WYK n/a 1,650 1,650 SEO n/a 1,815 1,815 E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) 3,995 n/a n/a Total 19,021 16,500 16,500 Northern rockfish8 9 W n/a 2,017 2,017 C n/a 3,136 3,136 E n/a n/a n/a Total 6,152 5,153 5,153 Shortraker rockfish11 W n/a 104 104 C n/a 452 452 E n/a 525 525 Total 1,441 1,081 1,081 Other rockfish9 12 W n/a 44 44 C n/a 606 606 WYK n/a 230 230 SEO n/a 3,165 200 Total 5,305 4,045 1,080 Pelagic shelf rockfish13 W n/a 381 381 C n/a 3,581 3,581 WYK n/a 504 504 SEO n/a 296 296 Total 5,822 4,762 4,762 Rougheye rockfish10 W n/a 82 82 C n/a 861 861 E n/a 297 297 Total 1,492 1,240 1,240 Demersal shelf rockfish14 SEO 467 293 293 Thornyhead rockfish W n/a 150 150 C n/a 766 766 E n/a 749 749 Total 2,220 1,665 1,665 Atka mackerel GW 6,200 4,700 2,000 Big skates15 W n/a 469 469 C n/a 1,793 1,793 E n/a 1,505 1,505 Total 5,023 3,767 3,767 Longnose skates16 W n/a 70 70 C n/a 1,879 1,879 E n/a 676 676 Total 3,500 2,625 2,625 Other skates17 GW 2,706 2,030 2,030 Squids GW 1,530 1,148 1,148 Sharks GW 8,037 6,028 6,028 Octopus GW 1,941 1,455 1,455 Sculpins GW 7,641 5,731 5,731
Total 756,621 612,506 447,752 1Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 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. Table 2 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 seasonal apportionments. In the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3Section 679.20(a)(12)(i) requires the allocation of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned among various sectors 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. In the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA, Pacific cod is allocated 90 percent for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component. Table 3 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments. 4Sablefish is allocated to hook-and-line and trawl gear in 2013 and trawl gear in 2014. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2013 and 2014 allocations of sablefish TACs. 5“Deep-water flatfish” means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deep-sea sole. 6“Shallow-water flatfish” means flatfish not including “deep-water flatfish,” flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 7“Pacific ocean perch” meansSebastes alutus. 8“Northern rockfish” meansSebastes polyspinous.For management purposes the 3 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska has been included in the slope rockfish species group. 9“Other 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(silvergray),S. diploproa(splitnose),S. saxicola(stripetail),S. miniatus(vermilion),S. reedi(yellowmouth),S. entomelas(widow), andS. flavidus(yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, other rockfish also includes northern rockfish,S. polyspinous. 10“Rougheye rockfish” meansSebastes aleutianus(rougheye) andSebastes melanostictus(blackspotted). 11“Shortraker rockfish” meansSebastes borealis. 12“Other rockfish” in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means slope rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The “other rockfish” species group in the SEO District means slope rockfish. 13“Pelagic shelf rockfish” meansSebastes variabilis(dusky). 14“Demersal shelf rockfish” meansSebastes pinniger(canary),S. nebulosus(china),S. caurinus(copper),S. maliger(quillback),S. helvomaculatus(rosethorn),S. nigrocinctus(tiger), andS. ruberrimus(yelloweye). 15“Big skate” meansRaja binoculata. 16“Longnose skate” meansRaja rhina. 17“Other skates” meansBathyrajaspp. Proposed Apportionment of Reserves

Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, skates, sharks, squids, sculpins, and octopuses in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing year. In 2012, NMFS apportioned all of the reserves in the final harvest specifications. For 2013 and 2014, NMFS proposes reapportionment of all the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, skates, sharks, squids, sculpins, and octopuses in anticipation of the projected annual catch of these species. Table 1 reflects the apportionment of reserve amounts for these species and species groups. Each proposed TAC for the above mentioned species categories contains the full TAC recommended by the Council, since no reserve was created from the relevant species and species groups.

Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore Components

In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is further allocated between inshore and offshore processing components. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively.

Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In the C and D seasons, the apportionments are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS summer surveys. For 2013 and 2014, the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, averaging the winter and summer distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory Area for the A season and instead of using the distribution based on only the winter surveys. The average is intended to reflect the migration patterns, distribution of pollock, and the performance of the fishery in the area during the A season for 2013 and 2014. During the A season, the apportionment is based on an adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 23 percent, 55 percent, and 23 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. During the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 23 percent, 67 percent, and 10 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 of approximately 36 percent, 28 percent, and 35 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively.

Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the Regional Administrator (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rolloveramount is limited to 20 percent of the unharvested seasonal apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20 percent limit could be further distributed to the other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass in the subsequent season in those statistical areas (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2013 and 2014 pollock TACs in the WYK District of 3,517 mt and SEO District of 10,774 mt are not allocated by season.

Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after subtraction of pollock amounts that are projected by the Regional Administrator to be caught incidentally by, or delivered to, the offshore component engaged in directed fishing for other groundfish species. Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore component is that amount that will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed under § 679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined during the fishing year as NMFS monitors the fishing activities in the offshore component.

Table 2 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown.

Table 2—Proposed 2013 and 2014 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska; Seasonal Biomass Distribution, Area Apportionments, and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Season2 Shumagin (Area 610) Chirikof (Area 620) Kodiak (Area 630) Total A (Jan 20-Mar 10) 6,285 (22.64%) 15,202 (54.76%) 6,274 (21.15%) 27,761 B (Mar 10-May 31) 6,285 (22.64%) 18,668 (67.25%) 2,806 (10.11%) 27,760 C (Aug 25-Oct 1) 10,123 (36.47%) 7,896 (28.44%) 9,743 (32.19%) 27,761 D (Oct 1-Nov 1) 10,123 (36.47%) 7,896 (28.44%) 9,743 (32.19%) 27,761 Annual Total3 34,816 49,662 28,565 111,043 1Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding. 2As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 3The WYK and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod

Section 679.20(a)(12)(i) requires the allocation among gear and operational sectors of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Section 679.20(a)(6)(ii) requires the allocation between the inshore and offshore components of the Pacific cod TACs in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA. NMFS allocates the proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod TAC based on these sector allocations annually between the inshore and offshore components in the Eastern GOA; seasonally between vessels using jig gear, CVs less than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 in length overall using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear in the Central GOA; and seasonally between vessels using jig gear, CVs using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear in the Western GOA. The overall seasonal apportionments in the Western and Central GOA are 60 percent of the annual TAC to the A season and 40 percent of the annual TAC to the B season.

Under § 679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the Pacific cod allowance from the A season will be subtracted from, or added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that are determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be reapportioned to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the fishery year.

Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i) NMFS proposes the allocations of the proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. In accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (See Table 1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). NMFS proposes that the jig sector would receive 2.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.5 percent and an additional 1.0 percent because this sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its initial 2012 allocation in the Western GOA. NMFS also proposes that the jig sector would receive 2.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA. This also is because this sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its initial 2012 allocation in the Central GOA. The jig sector allocations are further apportioned between the A (60 percent) and B (40 percent) season. The sector allocations based on gear type, operation type, and vessel length overall are allocated the remainder of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western and Central GOA. These amounts are slightly less than the 2013 sector and seasonal amounts established in the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications (77 FR 15195, March 14, 2012), due to the proposed increase in the jig apportionments in the Western and Central GOA. Table 3 lists the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod TACs.

Table 3—Proposed 2013 and 2014 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocations of Pacific Cod TAC Amounts to Gear Types, Operational Types, and Vessel Length Overall in the Western and Central Gulf of Alaska and Allocations for Processing by the Inshore and Offshore Components in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Regulatory area and sector Annual
  • allocation
  • (mt)
  • A Season Sector % of
  • annual non-
  • jig TAC
  • Seasonal
  • allowances
  • (mt)
  • B Season Sector % of
  • annual non-
  • jig TAC
  • Seasonal
  • allowances
  • (mt)
  • Western GOA: Jig (2.5% of TAC) 546 N/A 328 N/A 218 Hook-and-line CV 298 0.70 149 0.70 149 Hook-and-line C/P 4,216 10.90 2,321 8.90 1,895 Trawl CV 8,177 27.70 5,898 10.70 2,278 Trawl C/P 511 0.90 192 1.50 319 Pot CV and Pot C/P 8,092 19.80 4,216 18.20 3,876 Total 21,840 60.00 13,104 40.00 8,736 Central GOA: Jig (2.0% of TAC) 887 N/A 532 N/A 355 Hook-and-line < 50 CV 6,348 9.32 4,050 5.29 2,298 Hook-and-line ≥ 50 CV 2,916 5.61 2,439 1.10 477 Hook-and-line C/P 2,219 4.11 1,785 1.00 434 Trawl CV 18,079 21.13 9,189 20.45 8,890 Trawl C/P 1,825 2.00 871 2.19 954 Pot CV and Pot C/P 12,088 17.83 7,752 9.97 4,337 Total 44,363 60.00 26,168 40.00 17,745 Eastern GOA Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 2,047 1,842 205
    Proposed 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 GOA may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish in directed fisheries for other target species (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)).

    In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District making the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC available to vessels using hook-and-line gear. As a result, NMFS proposes to allocate 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line gear. This recommendation results in a proposed 2013 allocation of 268 mt to trawl gear and 5,083 mt to hook-and-line gear in the Eastern GOA. Table 4 lists the allocations of the proposed 2013 sablefish TACs to hook-and-line and trawl gear. Table 5 lists the allocations of the proposed 2014 sablefish TACs to trawl 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. The Council also recommended that only the 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. Since there is an annual NMFS survey and assessment for sablefish and the final harvest specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season begins (typically, in early March), the 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. With the exception of the trawl allocations that were provided to the Rockfish Program cooperatives, directed fishing for sablefish is closed for trawl gear for the fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 20. Therefore, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the effective date of the final harvest specifications.

    Table 4—Proposed 2013 Sablefish TAC Amounts 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
  • allocation
  • Trawl
  • allocation
  • Western 1,757 1,406 351 Central 5,686 4,549 1,137 West Yakutat1 2,219 1,951 268 Southeast Outside 3,132 3,132 0 Total 12,794 11,038 1,756 1The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat district.
    Table 5—Proposed 2014 Sablefish TAC Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocation to Trawl Gear1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district TAC Hook-and-line
  • allocation
  • Trawl
  • allocation
  • Western 1,757 n/a 351 Central 5,686 n/a 1,137 West Yakutat2 2,219 n/a 268 Southeast Outside 3,132 n/a 0 Total 12,794 n/a 1,756 1The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year. 2The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat district.
    Proposed Apportionments to the Central GOA Rockfish Program

    These proposed 2013 and 2014 groundfish harvest specifications for the GOA include the various fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations established by the Central GOA Rockfish Program. Under the Rockfish Program, the rockfish primary species (Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish) are allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch needs in other directed groundfish fisheries.

    The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative quota to participants for primary and secondary species, allows a participant holding a license limitation program (LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative with other persons, and allows holders of C/P LLP licenses to opt-out of the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear. Additionally, the Rockfish Program continues to establish sideboard limits to limit the ability of harvesters operating under the Rockfish Program from increasing their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program fisheries. Besides groundfish species, the Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the halibut PSC limit from the third season deep-water species fishery allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants (§ 679.81(d)). This includes 117 mt to the CV sector and 74 mt to the C/P sector.

    Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) requires allocations of 5 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 30 mt of pelagic shelf rockfish to the entry level longline fishery in 2013 and 2014. The allocation for the entry level longline fishery would increase incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation would continue each year until it the maximum percent of the TAC for that species. In 2012, the catch did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. Therefore, NMFS is not proposing an increase to the entry level longline fishery 2013 and 2014 allocations in the Central GOA. Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear. The remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary species would be allocated to the CV and C/P cooperatives. Table 6 lists the allocations of the proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs for each rockfish primary species to the entry level longline fishery, the incremental increase for future years, and the maximum percent of the TAC for the entry level longline fishery.

    Table 6—Proposed 2013 and 2014 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species to the Entry Level Longline Fishery in the Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish primary species Allocations of the
  • proposed 2013 and 2014 TAC
  • Incremental increase per season if catch exceeds 90 percent of the
  • allocation
  • Up to
  • maximum
  • percent of
  • TAC
  • Pacific ocean perch 5 metric tons 5 metric tons 1 Northern rockfish 5 metric tons 5 metric tons 2 Pelagic shelf rockfish 30 metric tons 20 metric tons 5

    NMFS proposes allocations of rockfish primary species among various components of the Rockfish Program. Table 7 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 allocations of rockfish in the Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery and other participants in the Rockfish Program, which include CV and C/P cooperatives. NMFS also proposes setting aside incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the Central GOA of 900 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 125 mt of northern rockfish, and 125 mt of pelagic shelf rockfish. These amounts are based on recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other groundfish fisheries.

    Allocations between vessels belonging to CV or C/P cooperatives are not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program applications for CV cooperatives, C/P cooperatives, and C/Ps electing to opt-out of the program are not due to NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year, thereby preventing NMFS from calculating 2013 and 2014 allocations in conjunction with these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post these allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at (http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/goarat/default.htm) when they become available after March 1.

    Table 7—Proposed 2013 and 2014 Allocations of Rockfish Prima