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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Trawl Gear in the Gulf of Alaska

Action

Temporary Rule; Modification Of A Closure.

Summary

NMFS is opening directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using trawl gear in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time, November 16, 2008. This action is necessary to fully use the 2008 Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit specified for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA.

 

Table of Contents Back to Top

DATES: Back to Top

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), November 16, 2008, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2008. Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., December 1, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Back to Top

Send comments to Sue Salveson, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by “RIN 0648-XL83,” by any one of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal website at http://www.regulations.gov.
  • Mail: P. O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
  • Fax: (907) 586-7557.
  • Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK.

All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying Information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe portable document file (pdf) formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Back to Top

Steve Whitney, 907-586-7269.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Back to Top

NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska 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 2008 Pacific halibut PSC limit specified for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA is 2,000 metric tons (mt) as established by the 2008 and 2009 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (73 FR 10562, February 27, 2008).

NMFS prohibited directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using trawl gear in the GOA under § 679.21(d)(7)(i) on November 6, 2008 (73 FR 66561, November 10, 2008). On November 13, 135 mt of Pacific halibut PSC limit was reallocated from Rockfish Pilot Program cooperative quota to the apportionment for trawl gear under § 679.21(d)(5)(iii)(B). As of November 13, 2008, NMFS has determined that approximately 119 mt remain in the 2008 Pacific halibut PSC limit for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.25(a)(1)(i), (a)(2)(i)(C), and (a)(2)(iii)(D), and to fully use the 2008 Pacific halibut PSC limit specified for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA, NMFS is terminating the previous closure and is opening directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. Other closures remain in full force and effect.

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) as such 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 opening of the groundfish fishery by vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. Immediate notification is necessary to allow for the orderly conduct and efficient operation of this fishery, to allow the industry to plan for the fishing season, and to avoid potential disruption to the fishing fleet and processors. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of November 13, 2008.

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.

Without this inseason adjustment, NMFS could not allow the fishery for groundfish by vessels using trawl gear in the GOA to be harvested in an expedient manner and in accordance with the regulatory schedule. Under § 679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit written comments on this action to the above address until December 1, 2008.

This action is required by § 679.25 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

Authority: Back to Top

16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

Dated: November 14, 2008.

Emily H. Menashes,

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

[FR Doc. E8-27480 Filed 11-14-08; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-S

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