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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pollock in the Bering Sea Subarea

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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:

Temporary rule; reallocation.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is reallocating projected unused amounts of Bering Sea subarea (BS) pollock from the incidental catch allowance to the directed fisheries. This action is necessary to allow the 2005 total allowable catch (TAC) of pollock to be harvested.

DATES:

Effective August 26, 2005, until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2005.

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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 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 2005 pollock incidental catch allowance in the BS was established as 44,577 metric tons by the 2005 and 2006 final harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (70 FR 8979, February 24, 2005), in accordance with § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1) and the American Fisheries Act (AFA) (Public Law 105-277, Division C, Title II).

As of August 22, 2005, the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that approximately 11,525 metric tons (mt) of pollock remain in the incidental catch allowance. Based on projected harvest rates of other groundfish species and the expected incidental catch of pollock in those fisheries, the Regional Administrator has determined that 7,000 mt of pollock specified in the incidental catch allowance will not be necessary as incidental catch. Therefore, NMFS is apportioning the projected unused amount, 7,000 mt, of pollock from the incidental catch allowance to the directed fishing allowances established pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A). Pursuant to the pollock allocation requirements set forth in § 679.20(a)(5)(i), this transfer will increase the allocation to catcher vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the inshore component by 3,500 mt, to catcher/processors and catcher vessels harvesting pollock for processing by catcher/processors in the offshore component by 2,800 mt and to catcher vessels harvesting pollock for processing by motherships in the offshore component by 700 mt. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), no less than 8.5 percent of the 2,800 mt allocated to catcher/processors in the offshore component, 238 mt, will be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels delivering to listed catcher/processors. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), an additional 14 mt or 0.5 percent of the catcher/processor sector allocation of pollock will be available to unlisted AFA catcher/processors.

Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(I) (A), Tables 3 and 10 are revised for the 2005 B season consistent with this reallocation. Footnote 1 continues to state the allocations under regulations at § 679.20(a)(5).

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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 reallocation of projected unused amounts of BS pollock from the incidental catch allowance to the directed fisheries. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of August 22, 2005.

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 taken under 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: August 26, 2005.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

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[FR Doc. 05-17341 Filed 8-26-05; 2:26 pm]

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