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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the Gulf of Alaska

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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 pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the B season pollock total allowable catch (TAC) for Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 11, 2004, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., August 25, 2004.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Josh Keaton, 907-586-7228.

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SUPPLEMENTARY 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 B season allowance of the pollock TAC in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA is 1,413 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2004 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (69 FR 9261, February 27, 2004). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), hereby increases the B season pollock TAC by 1,215 mt, the amount of the A season pollock allowance in Statistical Area 630 that Start Printed Page 11820was not previously taken in the A season. The revised B season allowance of pollock TAC in Statistical Area 630 is therefore 2,628 mt (1,413 mt plus 1,215 mt).

In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional Administrator has determined that the revised B season allowance of the pollock TAC in Statistical Area 630 will be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 2,328 mt, and is setting aside the remaining 300 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance will soon be reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.

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 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 closure of the B season pollock TAC in Statistical Area 630.

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 § 679.20 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: March 8, 2004.

Bruce C. Morehead,

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

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[FR Doc. 04-5662 Filed 3-9-04; 2:34 pm]

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