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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Other Rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska

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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 “other rockfish” in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). NMFS is requiring that catch of “other 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 allocation of the “other rockfish” 2001 total allowable catch (TAC) in this area has been achieved.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), August 8, 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 GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (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 CFR part 679.

The 2001 TAC allocation of “other rockfish” for the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA was established as 20 metric tons (mt) by the Final 2001 Harvest Specifications and Associated Management Measures for the Groundfish Fisheries Off Alaska (66 FR 7276, January 22, 2001 and 66 FR 37167, July 17, 2001). “Other rockfish” in the Western Regulatory Area means slope rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish.

In accordance with § 679.20(d)(2), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that the allocation of the “other rockfish” TAC in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA has been achieved. Therefore, NMFS is requiring that further catches of “other rockfish” in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA 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 that the need to immediately implement this action to prevent overharvesting the allocation of the “other rockfish” TAC in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA constitutes 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)(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 to prevent overharvesting the allocation of the “other rockfish” TAC for the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA 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: August 7, 2001.

Bruce C. Morehead,

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

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[FR Doc. 01-20259 Filed 8-8-01; 4:48 pm]

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