Amendment 109 to the FMP for the Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
NOAA Fisheries issues a final rule to implement Amendment 109 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. This final rule amends regulations governing the Western Alaska Community Development Quota Program to support increased participation in the groundfish CDQ fisheries (primarily Pacific cod) by catcher vessels less than or equal to 46 feet (ft) (14.0 meters (m)) length overall using hook-and-line gear. Specifically, this final rule exempts operators of registered catcher vessels greater than 32 ft (9.8 m) LOA and less than or equal to 46 ft LOA using hook-and-line gear from the requirement to obtain and carry a License Limitation Program license when groundfish CDQ fishing. This final rule also reduces observer coverage requirements for catcher vessels less than or equal to 46 ft LOA when groundfish CDQ fishing, and implements new in-season management and catch accounting requirements to properly account for the harvest of groundfish and halibut and the accrual of halibut prohibited species catch in these fisheries.
In addition to the regulations necessary to implement Amendment 109, this final rule removes from the regulations a table and some explanatory text that are no longer necessary. This final rule is intended to facilitate increased participation by residents of CDQ communities in the groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area, and to support economic development in western Alaska. This final rule also is intended to promote the goals of the CDQ Program, the goals and objectives of the BSAI FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and other applicable laws.