Amendment 116 to the FMP for Groundfish of the BSAI
NMFS issues regulations to implement Amendment 116 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). Amendment 116 and this final rule limit access to the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Trawl Limited Access Sector (TLAS) yellowfin sole directed fishery by vessels that deliver their catch of yellowfin sole to motherships for processing. This final rule establishes eligibility criteria based on historical participation in the BSAI TLAS yellowfin sole directed fishery; issues an endorsement to those groundfish License Limitation Program (LLP) licenses that meet the eligibility criteria; and authorizes delivery of BSAI TLAS yellowfin sole to motherships by only those vessels designated on a groundfish LLP license that is endorsed for the BSAI TLAS yellowfin sole directed fishery. This action is necessary to prevent increased catcher vessel (CV) participation from reducing the benefits the fishery provides to historic and recent participants, mitigate the risk that a "race for fish" could develop, and help to maintain the consistently low rates of halibut bycatch in the BSAI TLAS yellowfin sole directed fishery. This rule is effective November 5, 2018.