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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; “Other Species” in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

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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:

Prohibition of retention.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is prohibiting retention of “other species” in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). NMFS is requiring that catch of “other species” in this area be treated in the same manner as prohibited species and discarded at sea with a minimum of injury. This action is necessary because the 2004 total allowable catch (TAC) of “other species” in this area has been reached.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), October 16, 2004, until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 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 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 TAC of “other species” in the BSAI was established as 23,124 metric tons by the final 2004 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (69 FR 9242, February 27, 2004).

In accordance with § 679.20(d)(2), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that the “other species” TAC in the BSAI has been reached. Therefore, NMFS is requiring that further catches of “other species” in the BSAI be treated as a prohibited species in accordance with § 679.21(b). “Other species” includes sculpins, sharks, skates and octopus.

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 prohibition of retention of “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 § 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: October 15, 2004.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

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[FR Doc. 04-23478 Filed 10-15-04; 2:57 pm]

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