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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher Vessels Using Trawl Gear 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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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Modification of a closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is reopening directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI) for 72 hours. This action is necessary to fully use the B season allowance of the total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific cod specified for catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), April 10, 2004, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., April 13, 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 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fishery (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 final harvest specifications for groundfish of the BSAI (69 FR 9242, February 27, 2004), established the Pacific cod TAC allocated to catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI for the period 1200 hrs, A.l.t., April 1, 2004, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., June 10, 2004, as 4,684 metric tons (mt). See § 679.20(c)(3)(iii), § 679.20(c)(5), and § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(A) and (B). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the directed fishery for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear was closed, effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., April 4, 2004 (69 FR 17982, April 6, 2004), because it was determined that the B season allocation of the 2004 Pacific cod TAC specified for catcher vessels using trawl gear had been caught.

NMFS has determined, based on updated information as of April 6, 2004, that the B season allocation of the 2004 Pacific cod TAC for catcher vessels using trawl gear has not been fully caught and that 1,500 mt remain. Therefore, NMFS is terminating the previous closure and is reopening directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., April 10, 2004.

In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance will be reached after 72 hours. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., April 13, 2004.

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 a requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the reopening of the B season allocation of Pacific cod TAC specified for catcher vessels using trawl gear 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 § 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: April 9, 2004.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

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[FR Doc. 04-8487 Filed 4-9-04; 2:50 pm]

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