National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Closure and notice of opening.
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Atka mackerel in the Central Aleutian District of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2001 total allowable catch (TAC) of Atka mackerel. NMFS is also opening fishing with trawl gear in Steller sea lion critical habitat in the Central Aleutian District for species for which directed fisheries are open.
Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), September 18, 2001, until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2001.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Mary Furuness, 907-586-7228.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the BSAI exclusive economic zone 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 at 50 CFR part 679. -
The 2001 Atka mackerel TAC in the Central Aleutian District of the BSAI is 31,080 metric tons (mt) as established 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). -
In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the 2001 Atka mackerel TAC in the Central Aleutian District will be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 30,880 mt, and is setting aside the remaining 200 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 soon will be reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Atka mackerel in the Central Aleutian District of the BSAI. -
Maximum retainable bycatch amounts may be found in the regulations at § 679.20(e) and (f). -
On September 9, 2001, NMFS prohibited trawling within Steller sea lion critical habitat in the Central Aleutian District because the allowable harvest of Atka mackerel in the Steller Sea lion protection areas in the Central Aleutian District had been reached (66 FR 47418, September 12, 2001). Regulations at 679.22(a)(12)(iii)(C) authorize opening Steller sea lion critical habitat in the Central Aleutian District to fishing with trawl gear after NMFS closes Atka mackerel to directed fishing within that district. Therefore, NMFS is opening critical habitat in the Central Aleutian District to fishing with trawl gear for species open to directed fishing. -
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 exceeding the 2001 Atka mackerel TAC in the Central Aleutian District of the BSAI 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 exceeding the 2001 Atka mackerel TAC in the Central Start Printed Page 48823Aleutian District of the BSAI constitutes good cause to find that the effective date of this action cannot be delayed for 30 days. In addition, this action relieves a restriction by opening critical habitat in the Central Aleutian District to fishing with trawl gear for species open to directed fishing. 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 679.22 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: September 18, 2001.
Richard W. Surdi,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 01-23704 Filed 9-18-01; 4:18 pm]
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