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Rule

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

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is closing directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using trawl gear in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), except for directed fishing for pollock by vessels using pelagic trawl gear in those portions of the GOA open to directed fishing for pollock. This action is necessary because the 2001 Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit specified for trawl gear in the GOA has been caught.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), October 21, 2001, until 1200 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 at 50 CFR part 679.

The Pacific halibut PSC limit for vessels using trawl was established as 2,000 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 adjusted (66 FR 17087, March 29, 2001, and 66 FR 37167, July 17, 2001). The Administrator, Alaska Region, has determined, in accordance with § 679.21(d)(7)(i), that vessels engaged in Start Printed Page 53737directed fishing for groundfish with trawl gear in the GOA have caught the 2001 Pacific halibut PSC limit. Therefore, NMFS is closing the directed fishery for groundfish by vessels using trawl gear in the GOA, except for directed fishing for pollock by vessels using pelagic trawl gear in those portions of the GOA that remain open to directed fishing for pollock.

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. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds that the need to immediately implement this action to prevent exceeding the 2001 Pacific halibut bycatch allowance specified for trawl gear in 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 exceeding the 2001 Pacific halibut bycatch allowance specified for trawl gear in 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 50 CFR 679.21 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: October 19, 2001.

Bruce C. Morehead,

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

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[FR Doc. 01-26798 Filed 10-19-01; 2:59 pm]

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