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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason Adjustment to the 2007 Aleutian Islands Atka Mackerel Total Allowable Catch Amounts

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; inseason adjustment; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is adjusting the annual total allowable catch amount (TAC) for the Central and Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel fisheries. This action is necessary because NMFS has determined these TACs are incorrectly specified. This action will ensure the A and B season harvests of Central and Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel do not exceed the appropriate amount based on the best available scientific information for Atka mackerel in the Aleutian Islands subarea. This action is consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP).

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 12, 2007, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., April 15, 2007, unless otherwise modified or superceded through publication of a notification in the Federal Register.

Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., January 29, 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 AIATKAMACK-TAC07@noaa.gov and include the subject line of the e-mail comment the document identifier: AIATKAMACK-TAC07 (E-mail comments, with or without attachments, are limited to 5 megabytes); or
  • Webform at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http/www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions at that site for submitting comments.
Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Josh Keaton, 907-586-7228.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) according to the FMP prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (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 2007 TAC of Atka mackerel in the Central Aleutian District of the BSAI is 38,000 metric tons (mt) as established by the 2006 and 2007 harvest specification for groundfish in the BSAI (71 FR 19894, March 3, 2006). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(8)(ii), the 2007 A and B season allowances of Atka mackerel in the Central Aleutian District of the BSAI are each 17,575 mt, and the 2007 A and B season Harvest Limit Area (HLA) limits of Atka mackerel in the Central Aleutian District of the BSAI are each 10,545 mt.

The 2007 TAC of Atka mackerel in the Western Aleutian District of the BSAI is 17,500 mt as established by the 2006 and 2007 harvest specification for groundfish in the BSAI (71 FR 19894, March 3, 2006). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(8)(ii), the 2007 A and B season allowances of Atka mackerel in the Western Aleutian District of the BSAI are each 8,750 mt, and the 2007 A and B season Harvest Limit Area (HLA) limits of Atka mackerel in the Western Aleutian District of the BSAI are each 5,250 mt.

In December 2006, the Council recommended a 2007 Atka mackerel TAC of 29,600 mt for the Central Aleutian District and 9,600 mt for the Western Aleutian District. These amounts are less than the TACs as established by the 2006 and 2007 harvest specification for groundfish in the BSAI (71 FR 19894, March 3, 2006). The TACs recommended by the Council are based on the Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report (SAFE), dated November 2006, which NMFS has determined is the best available scientific information for this fishery.

Steller sea lions occur in the same location as the Aleutian Islands Atka mackerel fishery and are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Atka mackerel is a principal prey species for Steller sea lions in the Aleutian Islands subarea. The seasonal apportionment of Atka mackerel harvest is necessary to ensure the groundfish fisheries are not likely to cause jeopardy of extinction or adverse modification of critical habitat for Steller sea lions. The regulations at § 679.20(a)(ii)(8)(A) require the Atka Start Printed Page 1464mackerel TAC specified for each subarea or district of the BSAI to be divided equally, after subtraction of the jig gear allocation and reserves, into two seasonal allowances corresponding to the A and B seasons defined at § 679.23(e)(3).

In accordance with § 679.25(a)(2)(i)(B), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that, based on the November 2006 SAFE report for this fishery, the current Central and Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel TACs are incorrectly specified. Consequently, the Regional Administrator is adjusting the 2007 Atka mackerel TAC to 29,600 mt in the Central Aleutian District and 9,600 mt in the Western Aleutian District of the BSAI. In accordance with § 679.20(a)(8)(ii) the 2007 A and B season apportionments for Atka mackerel after deducting the CDQ reserve are each adjusted to 13,690 mt in the Central Aleutian District and 4,440 mt in the Western Aleutian District of the BSAI. Consequently, the 2007 A and B season HLA limits are each adjusted to 8,214 mt for the Central Aleutian District and 2,664 mt for the Western Aleutian District of the BSAI.

Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8), Tables 4, 12, and 14 of the 2006 and 2007 final harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (71 FR 10894, March 3, 2006) are revised for the 2007 Atka mackerel TACs consistent with this adjustment.

Table 4—2006 and 2007 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, and CDQ Reserve of the BSAI ATKA Mackerel TAC1

[Amounts are in metric tons]

Subarea and component2006 TAC2006 CDQ reserve2006 CDQ reserve HLA limit42006 ITAC2006 Seasonal allowances2
A season3B season3
TotalHLA limit4TotalHLA limit4
Western AI District15,5001,16369814,3387,1694,3017,1694,301
Central AI District40,0003,0001,80037,00018,50011,10018,50011,100
EAI/BS subarea57,500563n/a6,938n/an/an/an/a
Jig (1%)6n/an/an/a69n/an/an/an/a
Other gear (99%)n/an/an/a6,8683,434n/a3,434n/a
Total63,000n/an/an/a29,103n/a29,103n/a
Western AI District9,6007204328,8804,4402,6644,4402,664
Central AI District29,6002,2201,33227,38013,6908,21413,6908,214
EAI/BS subarea57,500563n/a6,938n/an/an/an/a
Jig (1%)6n/an/an/a69n/an/an/an/a
Other gear (99%)n/an/an/a6,8683,434n/a3,434n/a
Total46,700n/an/an/a21,56410,87821,56410,878
1 Regulations at §§ 679.20(a)(8)(ii) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery.
2 The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season.
3 The A season is January 1 (January 20 for trawl gear) to April 15 and the B season is September 1 to November 1.
4 Harvest Limit Area (HLA) limit refers to the amount of each seasonal allowance that is available for fishing inside the HLA (see § 679.2). In 2006 and 2007, 60 percent of each seasonal allowance is available for fishing inside the HLA in the Western and Central Aleutian Districts.
5 Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea.
6 Regulations at § 679.20 (a)(8)(i) require that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea ITAC be allocated to jig gear. The amount of this allocation is 1 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.

Table 12—2006 and 2007 Listed BSAI American Fisheries Act Catcher/Processor Groundfish Sideboard Limits

[Amounts are in metric tons]

Target speciesArea1995 - 19972006 ITAC available to trawl C/Ps2006 C/P sideboard limit2007 ITAC available to trawl C/Ps2007 C/P sideboard limit
Retained catchTotal catchRatio of retained catch to total catch
Pacific cod trawlBSAI12,42448,1770.25842,17110,88032,1718,300
Sablefish trawlBS84970.0161,199191,14818
AI01450.00063805820
Atka mackerelCentral AIn/an/an/an/an/an/an/a
A season1n/an/a0.11518,5002,12813,6901,574
HLA limit2n/an/an/a11,1001,2778,214945
B season1n/an/a0.11518,5002,12813,6901,574
HLA limit2n/an/an/a11,1001,2778,214945
Western AIn/an/an/an/an/an/an/a
A season1n/an/a0.2007,1691,4344,440888
HLA limit2n/an/an/a4,3018602,664533
B season1n/an/a0.2007,1691,4344,440888
HLA limit2n/an/an/a4,3018602,664533
Yellowfin soleBSAI100,192435,7880.23081,34618,71091,49521,044
Rock soleBSAI6,317169,3620.03735,2751,30537,4001,384
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Greenland turbotBS12117,3050.0071,607111,54311
AI234,9870.00572346933
Arrowtooth flounderBSAI7633,9870.00211,0502215,30031
Flathead soleBSAI1,92552,7550.03616,57559718,700673
Alaska plaiceBSAI149,4380.0016,800712,75013
Other flatfishBSAI3,05852,2980.0582,9751734,250247
Pacific ocean perchBS124,8790.0021,19022,5165
Eastern AI1256,1790.0202,849573,01260
Central AI35,6980.0012,80832,9713
Western AI5413,5980.0044,703194,96920
Northern rockfishBSAI9113,0400.0074,163294,62532
Shortraker rockfishBSAI502,8110.0185371053710
Rougheye rockfishBSAI502,8110.01820742074
Other rockfishBS186210.0294261275022
AI228060.0275021450214
SquidBSAI733,3280.0221,084241,08424
Other speciesBSAI55368,6720.00824,65019722,950184
1 The seasonal apportionment of Atka mackerel in the open access fishery is 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. Listed AFA catcher/processors are limited to harvesting no more than zero in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea, 20 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Western Aleutian District, and 11.5 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Central Aleutian District.
2 Harvest Limit Area (HLA) limit refers to the amount of each seasonal allowance that is available for fishing inside the HLA (see § 679.2). In 2006 and 2007, 60 percent of each seasonal allowance is available for fishing inside the HLA in the Western and Central Aleutian Districts.

Table 14—2006 and 2007 BSAI American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits

[Amounts are in metric tons]

SpeciesFishery by area/season/ processor/gearRatio of 1995-1997 AFA CV catch to 1995 1997 TAC2006 initial TAC2006 Catcher vessel sideboard limits2007 initial TAC2007 Catcher vessel sideboard limits
Pacific codBSAIn/an/an/an/an/a
Jig gear0.00003,58902,7380
Hook-and-line CVn/an/an/an/an/a
Jan 1 - Jun 100.000616401250
Jun 10 - Dec 310.00061090830
Pot gear CVn/an/an/an/an/a
Jan 1 - Jun 100.00068,19256,2394
Sept 10 - Dec 310.00065,46134,1592
CV < 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear0.00061,27419701
Trawl gear CVn/an/an/an/an/a
Jan 20 - Apr 10.860929,52025,41422,52019,387
Apr 1 - Jun 100.86094,2173,6303,2172,770
Jun 10 - Nov 10.86098,4347,2616,4345,539
SablefishBS trawl gear0.09061,1991091,148104
AI trawl gear0.06456384158238
Atka mackerelEastern AI/BSn/an/an/an/an/a
Jig gear0.0031690690
Other gearn/an/an/an/an/a
Jan 1 - Apr 150.00323,434113,43411
Sept 1 - Nov 10.00323,434113,43411
Central AIn/an/an/an/an/a
Jan - Apr 150.000118,500213,6901
HLA limit0.000111,10018,2141
Sept 1 - Nov 10.000118,500213,6901
HLA limit0.000111,10018,2141
Western AIn/an/an/an/an/a
Jan - Apr 150.00007,16904,4400
HLA limitn/a4,30102,6640
Sept 1 - Nov 10.00007,16904,4400
HLA limitn/a4,30102,6640
Yellowfin soleBSAI0.064781,3465,26391,4955,920
Start Printed Page 1466
Rock soleBSAI0.034135,2751,20337,4001,275
Greenland TurbotBS0.06451,6071041,543100
AI0.02057231569314
Arrowtooth flounderBSAI0.069011,05076215,3001,056
Alaska plaiceBSAI0.04416,80030012,750562
Other flatfishBSAI0.04412,9751314,250187
Pacific ocean perchBS0.10001,1901192,516252
Eastern AI0.00772,849223,01223
Central AI0.00252,80872,9717
Western AI0.00004,70304,9690
Northern rockfishBSAI0.00844,163354,62539
Shortraker rockfishBSAI0.003753725372
Rougheye rockfishBSAI0.003720712071
Other rockfishBS0.004842627504
AI0.009550255025
SquidBSAI0.38271,0844151,084415
Other speciesBSAI0.054124,6501,33422,9501,242
Flathead SoleBS trawl gear0.050516,57583718,700944

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 679.25(c)(2) as such 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 allow for harvests that exceed the appropriate A and B season apportionments for Atka mackerel based on the best scientific information available. The Atka mackerel fishery is harvested rapidly and completely in the early part of the A season. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of December 13, 2006, and additional time for prior public comment would result in conservation concerns for the ESA-listed Steller sea lions.

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 § 679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit written comments on this action to the above address until January 29, 2007.

This action is required by § 679.22 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

Start Authority

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

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: January 8, 2007.

James P. Burgess,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 07-107 Filed 1-9-07; 2:49 pm]

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