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National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Notice of fishing season dates.
NMFS is opening directed fishing for sablefish with fixed gear managed under the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program. The season will open 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), February 29, 2004, and will close 1200 hrs, A.l.t., November 15, 2004. This period is the same as the 2004 IFQ and Community Development Quota season for Pacific halibut adopted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). The IFQ halibut season is specified by a separate publication in the Federal Register of annual management measures pursuant to 50 CFR 300.62.
Effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., February 29, 2004, until 1200 hrs, A.l.t., November 15, 2004.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Glenn Merrill, 907-586-7228.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
Beginning in 1995, fishing for Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) and sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) with fixed gear in the IFQ regulatory areas defined in § 679.2 has been managed under the IFQ Program. The IFQ Program is a regulatory regime designed to promote the conservation and management of these fisheries and to further the objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Northern Pacific Halibut Act. Persons holding quota share receive an annual allocation of IFQ. Persons receiving an annual allocation of IFQ are authorized to harvest IFQ species within specified limitations. Further information on the implementation of the IFQ Program, and the rationale supporting it, are contained in the preamble to the final rule implementing the IFQ Program published in the Federal Register, November 9, 1993 (58 FR 59375) and subsequent amendments.
This announcement is consistent with § 679.23(g)(1), which requires that the directed fishing season for sablefish Start Printed Page 6200managed under the IFQ program be specified by the Administrator, Alaska Region, and announced by publication in the Federal Register. This method of season announcement was selected to facilitate coordination between the sablefish season, chosen by the Administrator, Alaska Region, and the halibut season, chosen by the IPHC. The directed fishing season for sablefish with fixed gear managed under the IFQ program will open 1200 hrs, A.l.t., February 29, 2004, and will close 1200 hrs, A.l.t., November 15, 2004. This period runs concurrently with the IFQ season for Pacific halibut announced by the IPHC. The IFQ halibut season will be specified by a separate publication in the Federal Register of annual management measures pursuant to 50 CFR 300.62.
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 impracticable and 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 opening of the sablefish fishery thereby increasing bycatch and regulatory discards between the sablefish fishery and the halibut fishery, and preventing the accomplishment of the management objective for simultaneous opening of these two fisheries.
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 § 679.23(g)(1) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: February 4, 2004.
Bruce C. Morehead,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 04-2871 Filed 2-9-04; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S