Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for the Crab Rationalization Program for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs
This Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis evaluates the impacts of the Crab Rationalization Program for the King and Tanner fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands on small entities.
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published the proposed rule for the Program in the Federal Register on October 29, 2004 (69 FR 63200). An Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was prepared for the proposed rule, and described in the classification section of the preamble to the rule. The public comment period ended on December 13, 2004. NMFS received 49 letters of public comment on the proposed rule. NMFS summarized these letters into 234 separate comments. Of these, three comments were specifically directed to the IRFA and are presented in this FRFA. Several comments directly or indirectly dealt with economic impacts to small entities resulting from the management measures presented in the proposed rule. These comments and responses are included in the preamble to the final rule.
The BSAI crab fisheries are currently managed under the LLP. Under current management, the fisheries are prosecuted in an economically inefficient manner with significant amounts of the capital idle between seasons. The race to fish also creates incentives for participants to compromise safety to increase catch. The Council developed the Program which slows the race for fish, minimizes bycatch and associated mortalities, provides for conservation to increase the efficacy of crab rebuilding strategies, and addresses the social and economic concerns that have arisen under current management. The U.S Congress mandated NMFS approve and implement the Program by amending section 313(j) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-199, section 801).
Approximately 238 small entities own crab harvest vessels or crab catcher/processors. They are directly regulated by the final rule. Eight small entities appear to qualify for processor allocations. Thirteen communities, which are considered small government jurisdictions, could be directly impacted by the community protection provisions under consideration. The six non-profit CDQ groups are small entities directly regulated by the final rule.
Implementation of the final rule will change the overall reporting structure and recordkeeping requirements of the participants in the BSAI crab fisheries. Under the final rule, all participants will be required to provide additional reporting. Each harvester will be required to track harvests to avoid exceeding his or her allocation. As in other North Pacific rationalized fisheries, processors will provide catch recording data to managers to monitor harvest of allocations. Processors will be required to record deliveries and processing activities to aid in Program administration.