National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher processor vessels using pot gear and catcher vessels 60 feet (18.3 m) length overall (LOA) and longer using pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2003 interim total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific cod allocated to these vessels using pot gear in this area.
Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), February 26, 2003, until superseded by the notice of Final 2003 Harvest Specifications of Groundfish for the BSAI, which will be published in the Federal Register.Start Further Info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 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 2003 interim TAC of Pacific cod allocated to vessels using pot gear in the BSAI was established as a directed fishing allowance of 9,465 metric tons by the interim 2003 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (67 FR 78739, December 26, 2002). See § 679.20(c)(2)(ii), § 679.20(c)(5), and § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(A) and (C).
In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the 2003 interim TAC of Pacific cod allocated as a directed fishing allowance to vessels using pot gear in the BSAI will soon be reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher processor vessels using pot gear and catcher vessels 60 feet (18.3 m) LOA and longer using pot gear in the BSAI. Vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 m) LOA using pot gear in the BSAI may continue to participate in the directed fishery for Pacific cod under a separate Pacific cod allocation to catcher vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 m) LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear.
Maximum retainable amounts may be found in the regulations at § 679.20(e) and (f).
This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, (AA) 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 Start Printed Page 9943contrary to the public interest. This requirement is contrary to the public interest as it would delay the closure of the fishery, lead to exceeding the 2003 interim TAC, and therefore reduce the public's ability to use and enjoy the fishery resource.
The AA 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: February 25, 2003.
Bruce C. Morehead,
Acting Director,Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 03-4887 Filed 2-26-03; 2:55 pm]
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