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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Vessels Using Trawl Gear in 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 closing directed fishing for Pacific cod by vessels using trawl gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2003 halibut bycatch allowance specified for the trawl Pacific cod fishery category in the BSAI.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), September 25, 2003, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2003.

Start Further Info

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 Start Printed Page 56214according 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 CFR part 679.

The 2003 halibut bycatch allowance specified for the trawl Pacific cod fishery category in the BSAI is 1,434 metric tons as established by the final 2003 harvest specifications for Groundfish of the BSAI (68 FR 9907, March 3, 2003).

In accordance with § 679.21(e)(7)(v), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that the amount of the final 2003 halibut bycatch allowance specified for the trawl Pacific cod fishery category in the BSAI will be caught. Consequently, NMFS is closing directed fishing Pacific cod by vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI.

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 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 halibut bycatch allowance, 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 § 679.21 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

Start Authority

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

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Dated: September 24, 2003.

Bruce C. Morehead,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 03-24732 Filed 9-25-03; 1:18 pm]

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