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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Atka Mackerel in 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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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; closures and openings.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is announcing the opening and closing dates of the first and second directed fisheries within the harvest limit area (HLA) in Statistical Areas 542 and 543. This action is necessary to conduct directed fishing in the HLA in areas 542 and 543 and to prevent exceeding the HLA limits established for area 542 and area 543 pursuant to the 2007 Atka mackerel total allowable catch.

DATES:

The effective dates are provided in Table 1 under the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this temporary action.

Start Further Info

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.

In accordance with § 679.20(a)(8)(iii)(C), the Regional Administrator is opening the first directed fisheries for Atka mackerel within the HLA in areas 542 and 543, 48 hours after the closure of the Eastern Aleutian District (area 541) and the Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel directed fishery, also published in this issue. The Regional Administrator has established the opening date for the second HLA directed fisheries as 48 hours after the last closure of the first HLA fisheries in either area 542 or 543. Consequently, NMFS is opening and closing directed fishing for Atka mackerel in the HLA of areas 542 and 543 in accordance with the periods listed under Table 1 of this notice.

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Table 1. Effective dates and times

ActionAreaEffective Date1
FromTo
Closed Atka Mackerel with gears other than jig gearEastern Aleutian District (area 541) and the Bering Sea subarea1200 hrs, September 11, 20071200 hrs, December 31, 2007
Opening the first directed fishery in the HLA5421200 hrs, September 13, 20071200 hrs, September 20, 2007
5431200 hrs, September 13, 20071200 hrs, September 20, 2007
Opening the second directed fishery in the HLA5421200 hrs, September 22, 20071200 hrs, September 29, 2007
5431200 hrs, September 22, 20071200 hrs, September 29, 2007
1 Alaska local time

In accordance with § 679.20(a)(8)(iii)(A) and (B), vessels using trawl gear for directed fishing for Atka mackerel have previously registered with NMFS to fish in the HLA fisheries in areas 542 and/or 543. NMFS has randomly assigned each vessel to the directed fishery or fisheries for which they have registered. NMFS has notified each vessel owner as to which fishery each vessel has been assigned by NMFS (72 FR 46038, August 16, 2007).

In accordance with the 2007 and 2008 final harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (72 FR 9451, March 2, 2007) and § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1), the HLA limits of the B season allowance of the 2007 TACs in areas 542 and 543 are 8,214 mt and 2,664 mt, respectively. Based on those limits and the proportion of the number of vessels in each fishery compared to the total number of vessels participating in the HLA directed fishery for area 542 or 543, the harvest limit for each HLA directed fishery in areas 542 and 543 are as follows: for the first directed fishery in area 542, 4,107 mt; for the first directed fishery in area 543, 1,332 mt; for the second directed fishery in area 542, 4,107 mt; and for the second directed fishery in area 543, 1,332 mt. In accordance with § 679.20(a)(8)(iii)(E), the Regional Administrator has established the closure dates of the Atka mackerel directed fisheries in the HLA for areas 542 and 543 based on the amount of the harvest limit and the estimated fishing capacity of the vessels assigned to the respective fisheries. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Atka mackerel in the HLA of areas 542 and 543 in accordance with the dates and times listed in Table 1 of this notice.

After the effective dates of these closures, the maximum retainable amounts at § 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a trip.

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) 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 opening and closing of the fisheries for the HLA limits established for area 542 and area 543 pursuant to the 2007 Atka mackerel TAC. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of September 10, 2007. 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 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: September 11, 2007.

Alan D. Risenhoover

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

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[FR Doc. 07-4563 Filed 9-11-07; 3:00 pm]

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