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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; “Other 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 all rockfish defined in the category “other rockfish” in Table 3 of 2002 harvest specifications and associated management measures for the groundfish fisheries off Alaska (January 8, 2002) in the Bering Sea subarea of the Start Printed Page 57185Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). 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 amount of the 2002 total allowable catch (TAC) of “other rockfish” in this area has been achieved.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), September 4, 2002, until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2002.

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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 2002 TAC of “other rockfish” in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI was established as 307 metric tons 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 amount of the 2002 TAC for “other rockfish” in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI has been achieved. Therefore, NMFS is requiring that further catches of “other 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 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) as such requirement is contrary to the public interest. This requirement is contrary to the public interest as it would delay the closure of the fishery, lead to overharvesting the allocation of the TAC, and therefore reduce the public's ability to use the fishery resource.

The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment.

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:September 4, 2002

Virginia M. Fay,

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

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[FR Doc. 02-22806 Filed 9-4-02; 1:52 pm]

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