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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Non-Community Development Quota Pollock with Trawl Gear in the Chinook Salmon Savings Areas of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:

Closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for non-Community Development Quota (CDQ) pollock with trawl gear in the Chinook Salmon Savings Areas of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2003 non-CDQ limit of chinook salmon caught by vessels using trawl gear while directed fishing for pollock in the BSAI.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), September 1, 2003, through 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 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.

For 2003, the chinook salmon PSC limit for the pollock fishery was set at 33,000 fish (68 FR 9907, March 3, 2003). Of that limit, 7.5 percent is allocated to the groundfish CDQ program as prohibited species quota reserve. Consequently, the 2003 non-CDQ limit of chinook salmon caught by vessels using trawl gear while directed fishing for pollock in the BSAI, is 30,525 animals (§ 679.21(e)(1)(i) and (vii)).

In accordance with § 679.21(e)(7)(viii), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the 2003 non-CDQ limit of chinook salmon caught by vessels using trawl gear while directed fishing for pollock in the BSAI has been reached. Consequently, the Regional Administrator is prohibiting directed fishing for non-CDQ pollock with trawl gear in the Chinook Salmon Savings Areas defined at Figure 8 to 50 CFR part 679.

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, finds good cause to waive the Start Printed Page 47876requirement 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 non-CDQ limit of chinook salmon caught by vessels using trawl gear while directed fishing for pollock in the BSAI, 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 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: August 6, 2003.

Bruce C. Morehead,

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

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[FR Doc. 03-20515 Filed 8-11-03; 8:45 am]

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