[Federal Register: September 12, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 176)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 53605-53608]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr12se06-15]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 665

[Docket No. 060606149-6234-02; I.D. 052506A]
RIN 0648-AT95

 
Fisheries in the Western Pacific; Omnibus Amendment for the 
Bottomfish and Seamount Groundfish Fisheries, Crustacean Fisheries, and 
Precious Coral Fisheries

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this final rule to amend three fishery management 
plans (FMPs) to include fisheries and waters around the Commonwealth of 
the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Pacific Remote Island Areas 
(PRIA). These amendments affect United States domestic fisheries that 
offload or operate in Federal waters around the CNMI and the PRIA. 
These amendments establish new permitting and reporting requirements 
for vessel operators targeting bottomfish species around the PRIA to 
improve understanding of the ecology of these species and the 
activities and harvests of the vessel operators that target them. They 
also establish new permitting and reporting requirements for vessel 
operators targeting crustacean species and precious corals around the 
CNMI and PRIA.

DATES: This final rule is effective October 12, 2006, except for 
amendments to Sec. Sec.  665.14, 665.41, and 665.61, which require 
approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). When OMB approval is received, the 
effective date will be announced in the Federal Register.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the FMP amendments and Environmental Assessment 
(EA) may be obtained from Kitty M. Simonds, Executive Director, Western 
Pacific Fishery Management Council (WPFMC), 1164 Bishop Street, Suite 
1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, or from the web site http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.wpcouncil.org. 

Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects 
of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this rule 
may be submitted to William L. Robinson, Regional Administrator, 
Pacific Islands Region (PIR), NMFS, 1601 Kapiolani Blvd. 1110, 
Honolulu, HI 96814, or to David Rostker, OMB, by e-mail 
David_Rostker@omb.eop.gov, or by fax to 202-395-7285.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Harman, NMFS PIR, 808-944-2271.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

    This Federal Register document is also accessible via the Internet 
at the web site of the Office of the Federal Register: 
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.


[[Page 53606]]

Background

    The NMFS Pacific Islands Region encompasses Federal waters, i.e., 
the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), around the Territories of Guam 
and American Samoa, the State of Hawaii, the CNMI, and the PRIA. The 
EEZ extends from the inner boundary of the EEZ, i.e., the seaward limit 
of each coastal state, commonwealth, territory, and possession, to 200 
nautical miles (nm) offshore. For the CNMI and PRIA, the inner boundary 
of the EEZ is the shoreline, and for Guam, American Samoa, and Hawaii, 
the inner boundary of the EEZ is 3 nm from the shoreline.
    The Federal waters surrounding the CNMI are currently not included 
in the Fishery Management Plans for the Bottomfish, Crustaceans, or 
Precious Corals Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region (Bottomfish 
FMP, Crustaceans FMP, and Precious Corals FMP). Similarly, Federal 
waters surrounding the PRIA are not included in the Bottomfish or 
Crustaceans FMPs. Vessels have been known to fish for bottomfish and 
crustaceans in the Federal waters around the CNMI and PRIA, although on 
a small scale. While there are currently no known fisheries operating 
in the PRIA, and no precious corals fisheries operating in the CNMI, 
interest may arise in the future. This rule amends the FMPs to include 
fisheries operating in these areas under the FMPs. This rule is 
designed to establish monitoring systems and management mechanisms to 
implement specific regulatory controls should the need arise; specific 
management measures (such as time and area closures, or effort and 
landing limits) are not included.
    Additional background information on this final rule may be found 
in the preamble to the proposed rule (71 FR 36049) published on June 
23, 2005, and is not repeated here.

Comments and Responses

    On June 7, 2006, NMFS published in the Federal Register a notice of 
availability of the subject FMP amendments (71 FR 32911), and on June 
23, 2006, NMFS published the proposed rule that would implement the 
amendments (71 FR 36049). The public comment period ended on August 7, 
2006. NMFS received one comment on the proposed rule, as follows:
    Comment. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recommended the 
addition of regulatory text to clarify the management authority over 
commercial fisheries in refuge waters within the PRIA.
    Response. The preamble to the proposed rule states that the USFWS 
governs fishing activities within refuges, including those in the 
western Pacific, pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act (NWRSAA) of 1966, as amended by the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, and other authorities. 
Refuge waters are closed to all uses until they are specifically opened 
for such uses, and that the USFWS determines whether to open refuge 
waters for any use that is compatible with the refuges' primary 
purpose(s) and mission. While commercial fishing is generally 
prohibited in refuge waters, specific regulations are absent. Including 
refuge areas under the Bottomfish, Crustaceans, and Precious Corals 
FMPs will add specific regulations to these areas, but these 
regulations will not supersede any valid existing Federal regulations 
that are more restrictive to fishing operations. NMFS believes that the 
preamble language recognizes the authority of the USFWS, and adequately 
addresses the USFWS comments.

Changes to the Proposed Rule

    In the proposed rule, instruction 5 would have added at Sec.  
665.42 a paragraph to make it unlawful for any person to refuse to make 
available, to an authorized officer or employee of NMFS designated by 
the Regional Administrator for inspection and copying, any records that 
must be made available in accordance with Sec.  665.14(f)(2). This 
proposed addition would have duplicated an existing prohibition at 
Sec.  665.15(e), and was deemed unnecessary. Accordingly, that 
instruction was removed from the final rule.
    In the proposed rule, instruction 7 would have revised Sec.  
665.69, paragraph (b), to define the inner boundary of each new fishery 
management area. Although the inner boundary of the PRIA was described 
in the preamble to the proposed rule as being the shoreline, this 
definition was inadvertently omitted in the regulatory instructions. 
Accordingly, instruction 7 was edited to include the inner boundary of 
the PRIA in Sec.  665.69(b).

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator, NMFS, determined that the three FMP 
amendments are necessary for the conservation and management of the 
affected fisheries, and that the amendments are consistent with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other 
applicable laws.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification, or on the economic impact of the rule. As 
a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none 
was prepared.
    This final rule contains amendments to collection-of-information 
requirements subject to the PRA under OMB control numbers 0648-0214 and 
0648-0490. The amendments to these collection of information 
requirements have not yet been approved by OMB, but OMB approval is 
expected no later than November 13, 2006. NMFS will publish a notice 
when these requirements are cleared by OMB and are, therefore, 
effective (see DATES). The public reporting burden for the permit 
application process is 30 min per application. In the crustaceans 
fishery, it is estimated that two permit applications will be submitted 
annually for the permit area, resulting in a paperwork burden of 1 hr/
yr. In the bottomfish fishery, it is estimated that no more than five 
permit applications will be received annually for the permit area, 
resulting in a paperwork burden of 2.5 hr/yr. In the precious corals 
fishery, it is estimated that one permit will be applied for annually 
for the permit area, resulting in 30 min/yr in paperwork burden. 
Therefore, the total paperwork burden of these collections of 
information will be no more than four hours annually. The public burden 
for the proposed reporting requirements is 5 min per daily logsheet. It 
is estimated that up to eight vessels will be subject to the reporting 
requirement at any given time, and that each vessel will fish, on 
average, no more than 50 days/yr, resulting in a total paperwork burden 
of approximately 35 hr/yr. These estimates include the time for 
reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and 
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection of information.
    Send comments regarding these burden estimates or any other aspect 
of this data collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, 
to William L. Robinson, NMFS PIR (see ADDRESSES), or by e-mail to 
David_Rostker@omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202-395-7285.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to

[[Page 53607]]

respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for failure to 
comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of 
the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently 
valid OMB control number.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 665

    Administrative practice and procedure, American Samoa, Fisheries, 
Fishing, Guam, Hawaii, Hawaiian natives, Northern Mariana Islands, 
Pacific Remote Island Areas, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: September 7, 2006.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

0
For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 665 is amended as 
follows:

PART 665--FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC

0
1. The authority citation for part 665 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  665.12, the definitions for ``Crustaceans management 
area'', ``Crustaceans permit area 3'', and ``Crustaceans receiving 
vessel'' are revised, the definitions of ``Crustaceans permit area 4'', 
``Pacific Remote Island Areas bottomfish fishing permit'', and 
``Pacific Remote Island Areas crustacean fishing permit'' are added, 
and under the definition of ``Precious coral permit area'' paragraph 
(4)(v) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  665.12  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Crustaceans management area means the EEZ waters around American 
Samoa, the CNMI, Guam, Hawaii, and the PRIA.
* * * * *
    Crustaceans Permit Area 3 (Permit Area 3) means the EEZ around Guam 
and American Samoa, and the EEZ seaward of points 3 nautical miles from 
the shoreline of the CNMI.
    Crustaceans Permit Area 4 (Permit Area 4) means the EEZ around the 
PRIA, with the exception of EEZ waters around Midway Atoll.
* * * * *
    Crustaceans receiving vessel means a vessel of the United States to 
which lobsters taken in the crustaceans management area are transferred 
from another vessel.
* * * * *
    Pacific Remote Island Areas (PRIA) bottomfish fishing permit means 
the permit required by Sec.  665.61 to use a vessel to fish for 
bottomfish management unit species (MUS) in the EEZ around the PRIA, or 
to land bottomfish MUS shoreward of the outer boundary of the EEZ 
around the PRIA, with the exception of EEZ waters around Midway Atoll.
    Pacific Remote Island Areas (PRIA) crustacean fishing permit means 
the permit required by Sec.  665.41 to use a vessel to fish for 
crustacean management unit species (MUS) in the EEZ around the PRIA, or 
to land crustacean MUS shoreward of the outer boundary of the EEZ 
around the PRIA, with the exception of EEZ waters around Midway Atoll.
* * * * *
    Precious coral permit area * * *
    (4) * * *
    (v) Permit Area X-P-CNMI includes all coral beds, other than 
established beds, conditional beds, or refugia, in the EEZ seaward of 
points 3 nautical miles from the shoreline of the CNMI.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  665.14, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  665.14  Reporting and recordkeeping.

    (a) Fishing record forms. The operator of any fishing vessel 
subject to the requirements of Sec. Sec.  665.21, 665.41, 665.81, or 
665.602 must maintain on board the vessel an accurate and complete 
record of catch, effort, and other data on report forms provided by the 
Regional Administrator. All information specified on the forms must be 
recorded on the forms within 24 hr after the completion of each fishing 
day. Each form must be signed and dated by the fishing vessel operator. 
For the fisheries managed under Sec.  665.21, 665.41, and 665.81, the 
original logbook form for each day of the fishing trip must be 
submitted to the Regional Administrator within 72 hr of each landing of 
MUS, unless the fishing was authorized under a PRIA troll and handline 
permit, a PRIA crustaceans fishing permit, or a PRIA precious corals 
fishing permit, in which case the original logbook form for each day of 
fishing within the PRIA EEZ waters must be submitted to the Regional 
Administrator within 30 days of each landing of MUS. For fisheries 
managed under Sec.  665.602, the original logbook form for each day of 
the fishing trip must be submitted to the Regional Administrator within 
30 days of each landing of MUS.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  665.41, paragraph (a)(2) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  665.41  Permits.

    (a) * * *
    (2) The owner of any vessel used to fish for lobster in Permit Area 
2, Permit Area 3, or Permit Area 4, must have a permit issued for that 
vessel.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  665.61, paragraph (a)(1) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  665.61  Permits.

    (a) * * *
    (1) The owner of any vessel used to fish for bottomfish management 
unit species in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Subarea or Pacific 
Remote Island Areas Subarea must have a permit issued under this 
section and the permit must be registered for use with that vessel.
* * * * *

0
6. In Sec.  665.62 paragraph (b) is revised, and paragraph (f) is added 
to read as follows:


Sec.  665.62  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (b) Fish for, or retain on board a vessel, bottomfish management 
unit species in the Ho'omalu Zone, the Mau Zone, or the Pacific Remote 
Island Areas without the appropriate permit registered for use with 
that vessel issued under Sec.  665.13.
* * * * *
    (f) Falsify or fail to make or file all reports of bottomfish 
management unit species landings taken in the Pacific Remote Island 
Areas, containing all data in the exact manner, as specified in Sec.  
665.14(a).

0
7. In Sec.  665.69, paragraphs (a) introductory text, (b), and (c) are 
revised, and paragraphs (a)(6), (a)(7), and (a)(8) are added, to read 
as follows:


Sec.  665.69  Management subareas.

    (a) The bottomfish fishery management area is divided into eight 
subareas with the following designations and boundaries:
* * * * *
    (6) CNMI Inshore Area means that portion of the EEZ shoreward of 3 
nautical miles of the shoreline of the CNMI.
    (7) CNMI Offshore Area means that portion of the EEZ seaward of 3 
nautical miles from the shoreline of the CNMI.
    (8) Pacific Remote Island Areas means that portion of the EEZ 
seaward of the Pacific Remote Island Areas, with the exception of 
Midway Atoll.
    (b) The inner boundary of each fishery management area is a line 
coterminous with the seaward boundaries of the State of Hawaii, the 
Territory of American Samoa, the Territory of Guam, the CNMI, and the 
PRIA.

[[Page 53608]]

    (c) The outer boundary of each fishery management area is a line 
drawn in such a manner that each point on it is 200 nautical miles from 
the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured, or is 
coterminous with adjacent international maritime boundaries. The 
boundary between the fishery management areas of Guam and the CNMI 
extends to those points which are equidistant between Guam and the 
island of Rota in the CNMI.
[FR Doc. E6-15066 Filed 9-11-06; 8:45 am]

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