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Rule

Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Suspension of the Primary Pacific Whiting Season for the Shore-based Sector South of 42° North Latitude

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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:

Fishing restrictions; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces the suspension of the primary season for Pacific whiting (whiting) fishery for the shore-based sector south of 42° N. lat. at 1800 hours local time (l.t.) May 25, 2006. “Per trip” limits for whiting will be reinstated until 0001 hours June 15, 2005, at which time the primary season for the shore-based sector will be open coastwide. This action is authorized by regulations implementing the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), which governs the groundfish fishery off Washington, Oregon, and California. This action is intended to keep the harvest of whiting at the 2006 allocation levels.

DATES:

Effective from 1800 hours l.t. May 25, 2006 until 0001 hours June 15, 2006. Comments will be accepted through June 16, 2006.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments, identified by I.D. 052406B by any of the following methods:

  • E-mail:. 2006WhitingCAclosure.nwr@noaa.gov. Include I.D 052406B in the subject line of the message.
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Fax: 206-526-6736, Attn: Becky Renko.
  • Mail: D. Robert Lohn, Administrator, Northwest Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115-0070, Attn: Becky Renko.
Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Becky Renko at 206-526-6110.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The regulations at 50 CFR 660.323(a) established separate allocations for the catcher/processor, mothership, and shore-based sectors of the whiting fishery. For 2006, the 232,069 mt commercial harvest guideline for whiting is divided with the catcher/processor sector receiving 78,903 mt (34 percent), the mothership sector receiving 55,696 mt (24 percent), and the shore-based sector receiving 97,469 mt (42 percent). The regulations further divide the shore-based allocation so that no more than 5 percent (4,873 mt) of the shore-based allocation may be taken in waters off the State of California before the primary season begins north of 42° N. lat.

The primary season for the shore-based sector is the period or periods when the large-scale target fishery is conducted, and when “per trip” limits are not in effect. Because whiting migrate from south to north during the fishing year, the shore-based primary whiting season begins earlier south of 42° N. lat. than north. For 2006: the primary season for the shore-based sector between 42°-40°30' N. lat. began on April 1; south of 40°30′ N. lat., the primary season began on April 15; and the fishery north of 42° N. lat. is scheduled to begin June 15.

Because the 4,873 mt allocation for the early season fishery off California is estimated to be reached, NMFS is announcing the suspension of the primary whiting season south of 42° N. lat. Regulations at 50 CFR 660.323 (b)(4) allow this action to be taken. The 20,000-lb (9,072 kg) trip limit that was in place before the start of the southern primary season is being reinstated and will remain in effect until the primary Start Printed Page 31105season begins north of 42° N. lat. on June 15. A trip limit of 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) of whiting is in effect year-round (unless landings of whiting are prohibited) for vessels that fish in the Eureka area shoreward of the 100-fm (183-m) contour at any time during a fishing trip. This smaller limit is intended to minimize incidental catch of Chinook salmon, which are more likely to be caught shallower than 100 fm (183 m) in the Eureka area.

NMFS Action

This action announces achievement of the shore-based sector allocation specified at 50 CFR 660.323(a) for the fishery south of 42° N. lat. The best available information on May 23, 2006, indicated that the shore-based fishery allocation for the area south of 42° N. lat would be reached by 1800 l.t. May 25, 2006.

For the reasons stated here and in accordance with the regulations at 50 CFR 660.323(b)(4), NMFS herein announces: Effective 1800 hours l.t. May 25, 2006 until 0001 l.t., June 15, 2006, the primary whiting season south of 42° N. lat is suspended. No more than 20,000-lb (9,072 kg) of whiting may be taken and retained, possessed or landed by a catcher vessel participating in the shore-based sector of the whiting fishery. If a vessel fishes shoreward of the 100 fm (183 m) contour in the Eureka area (43° - 40°30′ N. lat.) at any time during a fishing trip, the 10,000-lb (4,536 kg) trip limit applies.

Classification

This action is authorized by the regulations implementing the groundfish FMP. The determination to take these actions is based on the most recent data available. The aggregate data upon which the determinations are based are available for public inspection at the office of the Regional Administrator (see ADDRESSES) during business hours.

The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries (AA), NMFS, finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for comment on this action pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553 (3)(b)(B), because providing prior notice and opportunity would be impracticable. It would be impracticable because if this restriction were delayed in order to provide notice and comment, it would allow the allocation for the shore-based fishery south of 42° N. lat. to be exceeded. Similarly, the AA finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness requirement of 5 U.S.C. 553 (d)(3), as such a delay would cause the fishery south of 42° N. lat. to exceed its allocation. Allowing the early season fishery to continue would result in a disproportionate shift in effort, which could result in greater impacts on Endangered Species Act listed Chinook salmon and overfished groundfish species that had been considered when the 2006 Pacific Coast groundfish harvest specifications were established. This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.323(b)(4), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

Start Authority

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

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: May 24, 2006.

James P. Burgess,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 06-4987 Filed 5-25-06; 3:28 pm]

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