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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Hook-and-Line Gear in the Gulf of Alaska

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using hook-and-line gear in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), except for demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District or sablefish in the GOA. This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2008 Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit specified for vessels using hook-and-line gear targeting groundfish other than demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District or sablefish in the GOA.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), October 16, 2008, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2008.

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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 GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (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 2008 Pacific halibut PSC limit allocated to vessels using hook-and-line gear targeting groundfish other than demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District or sablefish in the GOA was established as 290 metric tons by the 2008 and 2009 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (73 FR 10562, February 27, 2008).

In accordance with § 679.21(d)(7)(ii), the Regional Administrator has determined that the 2008 Pacific halibut PSC limit allocated to vessels using hook-and-line gear targeting groundfish other than demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District or sablefish in the GOA will soon be reached. Therefore, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using hook-and-line gear in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), except for demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District or sablefish in the GOA.

After the effective date of this closure, the maximum retainable amounts at 50 CFR 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a trip for vessels fishing for demersal shelf rockfish in the Southeast Outside District or sablefish in the GOA.

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 closing directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using hook-and-line gear in the GOA. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of October 14, 2008.

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 Start Printed Page 62213prior notice and opportunity for public comment.

This action is required by § 679.21 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: October 15, 2008.

Emily H. Menashes,

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

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[FR Doc. E8-24905 Filed 10-15-08; 8:45 am]

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