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Fisheries off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; Western Pacific Crustacean Fisheries; 2004 Bank-specific Harvest Guidelines

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Notification of no harvest guidelines for crustaceans.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces that annual harvest guidelines for the commercial lobster fishery in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) will not be issued for the year 2004.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Alvin Katekaru, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office, at 808-973-2937.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Under the Fishery Management Plan for the Crustacean Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region, 50 CFR 660.50(b)(2), NMFS is required to publish the harvest guidelines for lobster Permit Area 1 around the NWHI. The fishery has been closed since 2000. This action is (a) taken as a precautionary measure to prevent overfishing of the lobster resources; (b) in compliance with an order of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to keep the crustacean fisheries closed until an environmental impact statement and a biological opinion have been prepared for the crustacean fisheries in the western Pacific region; and (c) consistent with Executive Orders 13178 and 13196, issued in December 2000 and January 2001, that respectively, might be interpreted to close the NWHI crustacean fishery. NMFS announces that it will not be publishing any harvest guideline for this fishery for the year 2004 and no harvest of NWHI lobster resources will be allowed. NMFS intends to continue to conduct biological research on the status of the NWHI lobster resources and to examine the resulting data for indications as to the appropriate direction for future fishery management actions.

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

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Dated: March 10, 2004.

Alan D. Risenhover,

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

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[FR Doc. 04-5893 Filed 3-15-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-S