National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
NMFS is prohibiting retention of thornyhead rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). NMFS is requiring that catch of thornyhead 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 2002 total allowable catch (TAC) specified for thornyhead rockfish in this area has been achieved.
Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), September 21, 2002, until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2002.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Mary Furuness, 907-586-7228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.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 the Groundfish Fishery 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 2002 TAC allocation of thornyhead rockfish for the Western Regulatory Area was established as 360 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 and 67 FR 34860, May 6, 2002).
In accordance with § 679.20(d)(2), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that the 2002 TAC specified for thornyhead rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA has been achieved. Therefore, NMFS is Start Printed Page 60603requiring that further catches of thornyhead rockfish in the Western 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 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 TAC, and therefore reduce the public's ability to use and enjoy 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 section 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: September 20, 2002.
Virginia M. Fay,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 02-24368 Filed 9-20-02; 4:24 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S