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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:

Closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is closing directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the portion of the 2000 total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific cod allocated to catcher vessels using trawl gear in this area.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), April 24, 2000, until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2000.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mary Furuness, 907-586-7228.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the BSAI according to the Fishery Management Plan for the Groundfish Fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 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 portion of the TAC of Pacific cod allocated to catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI was established by the Final 2000 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish for the BSAI (65 FR 8282, February 18, 2000) as 41,953 metric tons (mt). See § 679.20(c)(3)(iii) and § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B).

In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the portion of the TAC of Pacific cod allocated to catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI will be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 37,953 mt, and is setting aside the remaining 4,000 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance will soon be reached. Consequently, NMFS is closing directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI.

Maximum retainable bycatch amounts may be found in the regulations at § 679.20(e) and (f).

Classification

This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. It must be implemented immediately in order to prevent overharvesting the 2000 TAC of Pacific cod allocated to catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI. A delay in the effective date is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. The Pacific cod directed fishing allowance established for catcher vessels will soon be reached. Further delay would only result in overharvest which would disrupt the FMP's objective of providing sufficient Pacific cod to support bycatch needs in other anticipated groundfish fisheries throughout the year. NMFS finds for good cause that the implementation of this action can not be delayed for 30 days. Accordingly, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d), a delay in the effective date is hereby waived.

This action is required by § 679.20 and is exempt from review under E.O. 12866.

Start Authority

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

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Dated: April 24, 2000.

George H. Darcy,

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

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[FR Doc. 00-10513 Filed 4-24-00; 1:23 pm]

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