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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Shortraker/Rougheye and Northern Rockfish in the Bering Sea Subarea and “Other Species” in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Community Development Quota (CDQ) reserve amounts of shortraker/rougheye rockfish and northern rockfish in the Bering Sea subarea and “other species” in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2004 interim CDQ reserve amounts of shortraker/rougheye rockfish, northern rockfish, and “other species” in these areas.

DATES:

Effective 0001 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 1, 2004, until superseded by the notice of Final 2004 Harvest Specifications of Groundfish for the BSAI, which will be published in the Federal Register.

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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.

The 2004 interim CDQ reserve amounts of shortraker/rougheye rockfish and northern rockfish in the Bering Sea subarea and “other species” in the BSAI are 3 metric tons (mt), 2 mt, and 606 mt respectively, as established by the Interim 2004 Harvest Specifications of Groundfish in the BSAI (68 FR 68265, December 8, 2003).

In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the 2004 interim CDQ reserve amounts of shortraker/rougheye rockfish and northern rockfish in the Bering Sea subarea and “other species” in the BSAI will be necessary as incidental catch to support other anticipated groundfish CDQ fisheries for the 2004 fishing year. Consequently, the Regional Administrator is establishing directed fishing allowances of zero mt. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for CDQ reserve amounts of shortraker/rougheye rockfish and northern rockfish in the Bering Sea subarea and “other species” in 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 impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent the Agency from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the closure of the interim CDQ reserve amounts of shortraker/rougheye rockfish and northern rockfish in the Bering Sea subarea and “other species” in the BSAI.

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 section 679.20 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: December 22, 2003.

Bruce C. Morehead,

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

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[FR Doc. 03-32074 Filed 12-29-03; 8:45 am]

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