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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Arrowtooth Flounder and Flathead Sole in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area

Document Details

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; apportionment of reserves; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

NMFS apportions amounts of the non-specified reserve of groundfish to the initial total allowable catch (ITAC) for arrowtooth flounder and flathead sole in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to allow the fishery to continue operating. It is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the fishery management plan for the BSAI.

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DATES:

Effective December 21, 2006 through 2400 hrs, Alaska local time, December 31, 2006. Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., Alaska local time, January 5, 2007.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments to Sue Salveson, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. 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 reserves@noaa.gov and include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the document identifier: bsaireserve; 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:

Jennifer Hogan, 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 2006 ITAC of arrowtooth flounder and flathead sole in the BSAI was established as 11,050 metric tons (mt) and 16,575 mt, respectively, by the 2006 and 2007 final harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (71 FR 10894, March 3, 2006). The Acting Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that the ITAC for arrowtooth flounder and flathead sole in the BSAI needs to be supplemented from the non-specified reserve in order to continue operations.

Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(b)(3), NMFS apportions 996 mt from the non-specified reserve of groundfish to the arrowtooth flounder ITAC and 970 mt to the flathead sole ITAC in the BSAI. This apportionment is consistent with § 679.20(b)(1)(ii) and does not result in overfishing of a target species because the revised ITAC is equal to or less than the specification of the acceptable biological catch in the 2006 and 2007 final harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (71 FR 10894, March 3, 2006).

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 non-specified reserves of groundfish to the arrowtooth flounder and flathead sole fisheries. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of December 18, 2006.

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 January 5, 2007.

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: December 21, 2006.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

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[FR Doc. 06-9882 Filed 12-21-06; 2:38 pm]

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