National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using hook-and-line gear in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), except for demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District or sablefish. This action is necessary because the second seasonal bycatch mortality allowance of Pacific halibut apportioned to hook-and-line gear targeting groundfish other than demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District or sablefish has been reached.
Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), August 1, 2003, until 1200 hrs, A.l.t., September 1, 2003.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Mary Furuness, 907-586-7228Start Printed Page 46503End 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 Groundfish 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 50 CFR part 679.
The Pacific halibut bycatch mortality allowance for groundfish included in the other hook-and-line fishery, which is defined at § 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(C), was as established by the final 2003 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (68 FR 9924, March 3, 2003) for the second season, the period June 10, 2003, through September 1, 2003, as 5 metric tons. The other hook-and-line fishery includes all groundfish except for demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District or sablefish.
In accordance with § 679.21(d)(7)(ii), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the second seasonal apportionment of the 2003 Pacific halibut bycatch mortality allowance specified for the hook-and-line groundfish fisheries other than demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District or sablefish has been reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for groundfish other than demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District or sablefish by vessels using hook-and-line 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 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 second seasonal bycatch mortality allowance of Pacific halibut apportioned to hook-and-line gear, 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 § 679.21 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: July 31, 2003.
Bruce C. Morehead,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 03-20020 Filed 8-1-03; 1:50 pm]
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