50 CFR 679.25 - Inseason adjustments.
(a) General -
(1) Types of adjustments. Inseason adjustments issued by NMFS under this section include:
(i) Closure, extension, or opening of a season in all or part of a management area.
(ii) Modification of the allowable gear to be used in all or part of a management area.
(iii) Adjustment of TAC and PSC limits.
(iv) Interim closures of statistical areas, or portions thereof, to directed fishing for specified groundfish species.
(2) Determinations. (i) Any inseason adjustment taken under paragraphs (a)(1)(i), (ii), or (iii) of this section must be based on a determination that such adjustments are necessary to prevent:
(A) Overfishing of any species or stock of fish or shellfish;
(B) Harvest of a TAC for any groundfish species or the taking of a PSC limit for any prohibited species that, on the basis of the best available scientific information, is found by NMFS to be incorrectly specified; or
(C) Underharvest of a TAC or gear share of a TAC for any groundfish species when catch information indicates that the TAC or gear share has not been reached.
(ii) Any inseason closure of a statistical area, or portion thereof, under paragraph (a)(1)(iv) of this section, must be based upon a determination that such closures are necessary to prevent:
(A) A continuation of relatively high bycatch rates of prohibited species specified under § 679.21(b) in a statistical area, or portion thereof;
(B) Take of an excessive share of PSC limits or bycatch allowances established under § 679.21(d) and (e) by vessels fishing in a statistical area, or portion thereof;
(C) Closure of one or more directed fisheries for groundfish due to excessive prohibited species bycatch rates occurring in a specified fishery operating within all or part of a statistical area; or
(D) Premature attainment of established PSC limits or bycatch allowances and associated loss of opportunity to harvest the groundfish OY.
(iii) The selection of the appropriate inseason management adjustments under paragraphs (a)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section must be from the following authorized management measures and must be based upon a determination by the Regional Administrator that the management adjustment selected is the least restrictive necessary to achieve the purpose of the adjustment:
(A) Any gear modification that would protect the species in need of conservation, but that would still allow other fisheries to continue;
(B) An inseason adjustment that would allow other fisheries to continue in noncritical areas and time periods;
(C) Closure of a management area and season to all groundfish fishing; or
(D) Reopening of a management area or season to achieve the TAC or gear share of a TAC for any of the target species.
(iv) The adjustment of a TAC or PSC limit for any species under paragraph (a)(1)(iii) of this section must be based upon a determination by the Regional Administrator that the adjustment is based upon the best available scientific information concerning the biological stock status of the species in question and that the currently specified TAC or PSC limit is incorrect. Any adjustment to a TAC or PSC limit must be reasonably related to the change in biological stock status.
(v) The inseason closure of a statistical area, or a portion thereof, under paragraph (a)(1)(iv) of this section shall not extend beyond a 60-day period unless information considered under paragraph (b) of this section warrants an extended closure period. Any closure of a statistical area, or portion thereof, to reduce prohibited species bycatch rates requires a determination by the Regional Administrator that the closure is based on the best available scientific information concerning the seasonal distribution and abundance of prohibited species and bycatch rates of prohibited species associated with various groundfish fisheries.
(b) Data. All information relevant to one or more of the following factors may be considered in making the determinations required under paragraphs (a)(2)(i) and (ii) of this section:
(1) The effect of overall fishing effort within a statistical area;
(2) Catch per unit of effort and rate of harvest;
(3) Relative distribution and abundance of stocks of groundfish species and prohibited species within all or part of a statistical area;
(4) Condition of a stock in all or part of a statistical area;
(5) Inseason prohibited species bycatch rates observed in groundfish fisheries in all or part of a statistical area;
(6) Historical prohibited species bycatch rates observed in groundfish fisheries in all or part of a statistical area;
(7) Economic impacts on fishing businesses affected; or
(8) Any other factor relevant to the conservation and management of groundfish species or any incidentally caught species that are designated as prohibited species or for which a PSC limit has been specified.
(c) Procedure. (1) No inseason adjustment issued under this section will take effect until -
(i) NMFS has filed the proposed adjustment for public inspection with the Office of the Federal Register; and
(ii) NMFS has published the proposed adjustment in the Federal Register for public comment for a period of 30 days before it is made final, unless NMFS finds for good cause that such notification and public procedure is impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.
(2) If NMFS decides, for good cause, that an adjustment is to be made without affording a prior opportunity for public comment, public comments on the necessity for, and extent of, the adjustment will be received by the Regional Administrator for a period of 15 days after the effective date of notification.
(3) During any such 15-day period, the Regional Administrator will make available for public inspection, during business hours, the aggregate data upon which an adjustment was based.
(4) If written comments are received during any such 15-day period that oppose or protest an inseason adjustment issued under this section, NMFS will reconsider the necessity for the adjustment and, as soon as practicable after that reconsideration, will either -
(i) Publish in the Federal Register notification of continued effectiveness of the adjustment, responding to comments received; or
(ii) Modify or rescind the adjustment.
(5) Notifications of inseason adjustments issued by NMFS under paragraph (a) of this section will include the following information:
(i) A description of the management adjustment.
(ii) Reasons for the adjustment and the determinations required under paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section.
(iii) The effective date and any termination date of such adjustment. If no termination date is specified, the adjustment will terminate on the last day of the fishing year.