National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), NationalOceanic 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 2003 total allowable catch (TAC) assigned to trawl gear in this area has been reached.
Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), July 26, 2003, until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2003.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Josh Keaton, 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 the Groundfish Fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Start Printed Page 44666Magnuson-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 TAC of sablefish for vessels using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA was established as 1,288 metric tons (mt) by the final 2003 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (68 FR 9924, March 3, 2003).
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 (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 prohibition of retention, lead to exceeding the 2003 TAC of sablefish assigned to vessels using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA, 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 § 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: July 23, 2003.
Bruce C. Morehead,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 03-19360 Filed 7-25-03; 2:05 pm]
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