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DOC/NOAA RIN: 0648-BK52 Publication ID: Fall 2021 
Title: Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Emergency Action to Change Seasonal Processing Limitations in the At-sea Whiting Fishery 

On March 9, 2021, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (the Council) requested National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) initiate an emergency action to temporarily allow at-sea Pacific whiting processing platforms to operate as both a mothership (MS) and a catcher-processor (C/P) during the 2021 Pacific whiting fishery. The Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan prohibits vessels in the at-sea Pacific whiting sector from operating as both a MS and C/P during the same calendar year. At the March 2021 Council meeting, members of the Pacific whiting industry submitted a letter requesting the Council and NMFS take emergency action to lift this restriction in response to impacts to fishing operations from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. During the 2020 whiting season, several at-sea processing vessels were forced to cease operations due to COVID-19 outbreaks onboard resulting in delays and lost processing capacity. In response, NMFS issued an emergency rule in June of 2020 to allow whiting vessels to operate as both a MS and C/P in the same calendar year. However, it was unforeseen that whiting fishery participants would still be dealing with effects of a COVID-19 pandemic a year later. There is continued risk to whiting vessels and loss of processing capacity should a COVID-19 outbreak occur onboard a processing platform. Because of this risk and uncertainty, members of industry and the Council Groundfish Advisory Panel (GAP) recommended the Council take emergency action to allow available vessels to operate as either type of processing platform for the 2021 fishing year and avoid potential economic hardships. This emergency action would temporarily allow eligible MS and C/P vessels to operate as both a MS and C/P during the 2021 Pacific whiting fishing year, instead of opting into a single sector at the beginning of the season. However, vessels would continue to not be allowed to operate as both an MS and C/P on the same fishing trip.  In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak onboard one platform, this flexibility could allow other processing platforms to process to harvest MS sector whiting allocations at-sea whiting catcher vessels would not otherwise be able to deliver to a MS vessel.

Agency: Department of Commerce(DOC)  Priority: Substantive, Nonsignificant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 50 CFR 660   
Legal Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.   
Legal Deadline:  None
Action Date FR Cite
Temporary Final Rule  05/14/2021  86 FR 26439   
Temporary Final Rule Effective  05/14/2021 
Temporary Final Rule Extension  10/25/2021  86 FR 58810   
Temporary Final Rule Extension Effective  10/25/2021 
Next Action Undetermined  01/00/2022 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: Federal, Local, State, Tribal 
Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Barry Thom
Regional Administrator, West Coast Region
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1201 NE Lloyd Boulevard, Suite 1100,
Portland, OR 97232
Phone:503 231-6266