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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish of 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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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Apportionment of reserve; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

NMFS apportions amounts of the non-specified reserve of groundfish to certain target species in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to account for previous harvest of the total allowable catch (TAC). It is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the fishery management plan for groundfish of the BSAI.

DATES:

Effective December 15, 2004. Written comments must be received no later than 4:30 p.m., Alaska local time, December 29, 2004.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments to Sue Salveson, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Lori Durall. Comments may be submitted by:

  • Mail to: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802;
  • Hand delivery to the Federal Building, 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, Alaska;
  • FAX to 907-586-7557;
  • E-mail to bsairel04_2@noaa.gov and include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the document identifier: bsairel04_2; or
  • Webform at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions at that site for submitting comments.
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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 according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management 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 Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that the initial TACs specified in the 2004 final harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (69 FR 9242, February 27, 2004) for arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, “other flatfish” and rock sole in the BSAI need to be supplemented from the non-specified reserve in order to account for prior harvest.

Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(b)(3), NMFS apportions amounts from the non-specified reserve to the TACs for the following species or species groups in the BSAI: 5,000 mt to arrowtooth flounder, 500 mt to flathead sole, 1,900 to “other flatfish” and 4,190 to rock sole. These apportionments are consistent with § 679.20(b)(1)(ii) and do not result in overfishing of a target species because the revised TACs are equal to or less than specifications of acceptable biological catch (69 FR 9242, February 27, 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) and 679.20 (b)(3)(iii)(A) 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 apportionment of the reserves. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data Start Printed Page 75006only became available as of December 3, 2004.

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.

Under § 679.20(b)(3)(iii), interested persons are invited to submit written comments on this action (see ADDRESSES) until December 29, 2004.

This action is required by 50 CFR 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: December 10, 2004.

Alen D. Risenhoover,

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

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[FR Doc. 04-27432 Filed 12-14-04; 8:45 am]

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