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DOC/NOAA RIN: 0648-BL42 Publication ID: Fall 2023 
Title: Amendment 123 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area; Halibut Abundance-Based Management of Amendment 80 Prohibited Species Catch Limit 

In response to a recommendation by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), this proposed action would implement Amendment 123 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI). If approved by the Secretary of Commerce and implemented by NMFS, this action would determine the BSAI Amendment 80 commercial groundfish trawl fleet’s (A80) halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit annually based on the most recent values from surveys conducted by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center and the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). The Council’s intent in recommending Amendment 123 is to link annual halibut PSC limits in the A80 fleet with estimated halibut abundance. The reason for the change being considered is that the current PSC limit, currently set as a fixed annual amount of 1,745 mt, becomes an increasingly larger proportion of total halibut removals in the BSAI when halibut abundance declines. Over the last 6 years, the Council and its advisory bodies, stakeholders, and the public have considered several approaches for a halibut abundance-based management (ABM) program consistent with Council fishery management objectives and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). Public testimony on this action over the years has focused on two primary concerns. The first is the importance of providing flexibility to the A80 fleet to prosecute their quotas. The second is concern about the decline in the directed halibut fishery catch as a result of a decline in halibut abundance, compounded by fixed PSC limits that further reduce the proportion of halibut available to the directed halibut fisheries.

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 679   
Legal Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.   
Legal Deadline:  None
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  12/09/2022  87 FR 75570   
NPRM Comment Period End  01/23/2023 
Final Action  11/00/2023 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: Federal 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Agency Contact:
Jon Kurland
Regional Administrator, Alaska Region
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
709 West Ninth Street,
Juneau, AK 99801
Phone:907 586-7638