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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Yellowfin Sole by Vessels Using Trawl Gear in Bycatch Limitation Zone 1 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 closing directed fishing for yellowfin sole by vessels using trawl gear in Bycatch Limitation Zone 1 (Zone 1) of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2003 bycatch allowance of red king crab specified for the trawl yellowfin sole fishery category in Zone 1.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), May 22, 2003, until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2003.

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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 exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for the Groundfish Fishery of the Start Printed Page 31629Bering 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 red king crab bycatch allowance specified for Zone 1 of the BSAI trawl yellowfin sole fishery category, which is defined at § 679.21(e)(3)(iv)(B)(1), is 16,664 animals (68 FR 9907, March 3, 2003).

In accordance with § 679.21(e)(7)(ii), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the 2003 bycatch allowance of red king crab specified for the trawl yellowfin sole fishery in Zone 1 of the BSAI has been reached. Consequently, the Regional Administrator is closing directed fishing for yellowfin sole by vessels using trawl gear in Zone 1 of the BSAI.

Maximum retainable 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 (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 contrary 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 bycatch allowance of red king crab specified for the trawl yellowfin sole fishery in Zone 1 of the BSAI, 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 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: May 21, 2003.

Bruce C. Morehead.

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

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[FR Doc. 03-13271 Filed 5-22-03; 2:53 pm]

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