National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
NMFS is prohibiting retention of sablefish by vessels using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). NMFS is requiring that catch of sablefish by vessels using trawl gear 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 sablefish 2002 total allowable catch (TAC) assigned to trawl gear in this area has been reached.
Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), July 11, 2002, until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2002.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Andrew Smoker, 907-586-7228.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental 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 50 CFR part 679.
The 2002 TAC allocation of sablefish assigned to trawl gear for the Central Regulatory Area was established as 1,086 metric tons (mt) by an emergency rule implementing 2002 harvest specifications and associated management measures for the groundfish fisheries off Alaska (67 FR 956, January 8, 2002).
In accordance with § 679.20(d)(2), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that the allocation of the sablefish TAC assigned to trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA has been reached. Therefore, NMFS is requiring that further catches of sablefish by vessels using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA be treated as prohibited species in accordance with § 679.21(b).
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 sablefish TAC assigned to trawl gear in the Central 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)(B). These procedures are unnecessary and contrary to the public interest because the need to implement these measures in a timely fashion to prevent overharvesting the allocation of the sablefish TAC assigned to trawl gear for the Central 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)(3), 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.Start Signature
Dated: July 11, 2002.
Virginia M. Fay,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 02-17854 Filed 7-11-02; 3:09 pm]
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