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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Sharpchin and Northern Rockfish in the Bering Sea Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is prohibiting retention of sharpchin and northern rockfish in the Bering Sea subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). NMFS is requiring that catch of sharpchin and northern rockfish in this area be treated in the same manner as prohibited species and discarded at sea with a minimum of injury. This action is necessary because the amount of the 2001 total allowable catch (TAC) of sharpchin and northern rockfish in this area has been achieved.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), May 4, 2001, until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2001.

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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 amount of the 2001 TAC of sharpchin and northern rockfish in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI was established as 16 metric tons by the Final 2001 Harvest Specifications and Associated Management Measures for the Groundfish Fisheries Off Alaska (66 FR 7276, January 22, 2001).

In accordance with § 679.20(d)(2), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that the amount of the 2001 TAC for sharpchin and northern rockfish in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI has been achieved. Therefore, NMFS is requiring that further catches of sharpchin and northern rockfish in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI be treated as prohibited species in accordance with § 679.21(b).

Classification

This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds the need to immediately implement this action because the fact that the amount of the 2001 TAC for sharpchin and northern rockfish in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI has been achieved constitutes good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B) and 50 CFR 679.20(b)(3)(iii)(A), as such procedures would be unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Similarly, the need to implement these measures in a timely fashion because the amount of the 2001 TAC for sharpchin and northern rockfish in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI has been achieved constitutes good cause to find that the effective date of this action cannot 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 Executive Order 12866.

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

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Dated: May 2, 2001.

Bruce C. Morehead,

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

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[FR Doc. 01-11546 Filed 5-3-01; 2:39 pm]

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