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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Atka Mackerel in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area

Action

Temporary Rule; Closures And Openings.

Summary

NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Atka mackerel with gears other than jig gear in the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A Season allowance of the 2006 total allowable catch (TAC) of Atka mackerel in these areas. NMFS is also announcing the opening and closing dates of the first and second directed fisheries within the harvest limit area (HLA) in Statistical Areas 542 and 543. These actions are necessary to prevent exceeding the HLA limits established for the Central (area 542) and Western (area 543) Aleutian Districts pursuant to the 2006 Atka mackerel TAC.

 

Table of Contents Back to Top

Tables Back to Top

DATES: Back to Top

The effective dates are provided in Table 1 under the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this temporary action.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Back to Top

Josh Keaton, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Back to Top

NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the BSAI exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679.

The A season allowance of the 2006 TAC of Atka mackerel specified for other gear in the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea was established as 3,434 metric tons (mt) by the 2005 and 2006 final harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (70 FR 8979, February 24, 2005). See § 679.20(a)(8)(ii) and (c)(3)(iii).

In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i) and (d)(1)(ii)(B), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that 350 mt of the 2006 Atka mackerel TAC for other gear in the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea will be necessary as incidental catch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 3,084 mt. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance has been reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Atka mackerel by vessels using other gear in the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea.

In accordance with § 679.20(a)(8)(iii)(C), the Regional Administrator is opening the first directed fisheries for Atka mackerel within the HLA in areas 542 and 543, 48 hours after the closure of the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel directed fishery. The Regional Administrator has established the opening date for the second HLA directed fisheries as 48 hours after the last closure of the first HLA fisheries in either area 542 or 543. Consequently, NMFS is opening and closing directed fishing for Atka mackerel in the HLA of areas 542 and 543 in accordance with the periods listed under Table 1 of this notice.

Table 1. Effective dates and times Back to Top
Action Area Effective Dates*
From To
*Alaska local time
Closing Atka Mackerel with gears other than jig gear Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea 1200 hrs, January 20, 2006 2400 hrs, December 31, 2006
Opening the first directed fishery in the HLA 542 1200 hrs, January 22, 2006 1200 hrs, February 5, 2006
543 1200 hrs, January 22, 2006 1200 hrs, February 5, 2006
Opening the second directed fishery in the HLA 542 1200 hrs, February 7, 2006 1200 hrs, February 21, 2006
543 1200 hrs, February 3, 2006 1200 hrs, February 21, 2006

In accordance with § 679.20(a)(8)(iii), vessels using trawl gear for directed fishing for Atka mackerel have previously registered with NMFS to fish in the HLA fisheries in areas 542 and/or 543. NMFS has randomly assigned each vessel to the directed fishery or fisheries for which they have registered. NMFS has notified each vessel owner as to which fishery each vessel has been assigned by NMFS. (71 FR 3247, January 20, 2006).

In accordance with § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1), the HLA limits of the A season allowance of the 2006 TACs in areas 542 and 543 are 9,851 mt and 5,550 mt, respectively. Based on those limits and the proportion of the number of vessels in each fishery compared to the total number of vessels participating in the HLA directed fishery for area 542 or 543, the harvest limit for each HLA directed fishery in areas 542 and 543 are as follows: for the first directed fishery in area 542, 4,926 mt; for the first directed fishery in area 543, 2,775 mt; for the second directed fishery in area 542, 4,925 mt; and for the second directed fishery in area 543, 2,775 mt. In accordance with § 679.20(a)(8)(iii)(E), the Regional Administrator has established the closure dates of the Atka mackerel directed fisheries in the HLA for areas 542 and 543 based on the amount of the harvest limit and the estimated fishing capacity of the vessels assigned to the respective fisheries. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Atka mackerel in the HLA of areas 542 and 543 in accordance with the dates and times listed in Table 1 of this notice.

Classification Back to Top

This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, (AA) finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) and 50 CFR 679.20(b)(3)(iii)(A) as such a requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the closure of the Atka mackerel fishery in the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea and the opening and closing of the fisheries for the HLA limits established for area 542 and area 543 pursuant to the 2006 Atka mackerel TAC. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of January 12, 2006. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment.

This action is required by § 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

Authority: Back to Top

16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

Dated: January 23, 2006.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

[FR Doc. 06-801 Filed 1-24-06; 1:26 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-S

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