Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for the 2012 Changes to the Area 2A Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan
This FRFA addresses the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Pacific Council’s) recommended 2012 changes to the Area 2A Pacific halibut Catch Sharing Plan and annual domestic Area 2A halibut management measures.
The Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 at 16 U.S.C. 773c provides that the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) shall have general responsibility to carry out the Halibut Convention between the United States and Canada and that the Secretary shall adopt such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes and objectives of the Convention and the Halibut Act. Section 773c(c) also authorizes the regional fishery management council having authority for the geographic area concerned to develop regulations governing the Pacific halibut catch in United States (U.S.) Convention waters that are in addition to, but not in conflict with, regulations of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). Accordingly, catch sharing plans to allocate the total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific halibut between treaty Indian and non-Indian harvesters, and among non-Indian commercial and sport fisheries in IPHC statistical Area 2A (off Washington, Oregon, and California) have been developed each year since 1988 by the Council in accordance with the Halibut Act. In 1995, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) implemented a Council-recommended long-term Catch Sharing Plan (Plan) [60 FR 14651, March 20, 1995]. In each of the intervening years between 1995 and the present, minor revisions to the Plan have been made to adjust for the changing needs of the fisheries. Thus, the main management objective for the Pacific halibut fishery in Area 2A is to manage fisheries to remain within the TAC for Area 2A, while also allowing each commercial, recreational (sport), and tribal fishery to target halibut in the manner that is appropriate to meet both the conservation requirements for species that co-occur with Pacific halibut and the needs of fishery participants in particular fisheries and fishing areas.