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Rule

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery; Closure of the Delmarva Scallop Access Area to General Category Scallop Vessels

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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), Department of Commerce.

ACTION:

Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces that the Delmarva Scallop Access Area will close to general category scallop vessels for the remainder of the 2009 fishing year. This action is based on the determination that 728 general category scallop trips into the Delmarva Access Area are projected to be taken as of 0001, April 1, 2009. This action is being taken to prevent the allocation of general category trips in the Delmarva Scallop Access Area from being exceeded during the 2009 fishing year, in accordance with the regulations implementing Framework 19 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

DATES:

Effective 0001 hours, April 1, 2009, through February 28, 2010.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Don Frei, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281-9221, fax (978) 281-9135.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulations governing fishing activity in the Sea Scallop Access Areas are found at §§ 648.59 and 648.60. Regulations specifically governing general category scallop vessel operations in the Delmarva Scallop Access Area are specified at § 648.59(e)(4)(ii). These regulations authorize vessels issued a valid general category scallop permit to fish in the Delmarva Scallop Access Area under specific conditions, including a total of 728 trips that may be taken by general category vessels during the 2009 fishing year. The regulations at § 648.59(e)(4)(ii) require the Delmarva Scallop Access Area to be closed to general category scallop vessels once the Northeast Regional Administrator has determined that the Start Printed Page 14934allowed number of trips are projected to be taken.

Based on trip declarations by general category scallop vessels fishing in the Delmarva Scallop Access Area, and analysis of fishing effort, a projection concluded that 728 trips will have been taken on April 1, 2009. Therefore, in accordance with the regulations at § 648.59(e)(4)(ii), the Delmarva Scallop Access Area is closed to all general category scallop vessels as of 0001 hours, April 1, 2009, through February 28, 2010. Any vessel that has declared into the general category Delmarva Access Area scallop fishery, complied with all trip notification and observer requirements, and crossed the VMS demarcation line on the way to the area, may complete the trip. This closure is in effect for the remainder of the 2009 scallop fishing year under current regulations.

Classification

This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

This action closes the Delmarva Scallop Access Area to all general category scallop vessels for the remainder of the 2009 fishing year. The regulations at § 648.59(e)(4)(ii) allow such action to ensure that general category scallop vessels do not take more than their allocated number of trips in the Delmarva Scallop Access Area. The Delamarva Scallop Access Area opened for the 2009 fishing year at 0001 hours on March 1, 2009. Data indicating the general category scallop fleet has taken all of the Delmarva Scallop Access Area trips have only recently become available. To allow general category scallop vessels to continue to take trips in the Delmarva Scallop Access Area during the period necessary to publish and receive comments on a proposed rule would result in vessels taking much more than the allowed number of trips in the Delmarva Scallop Access Area. Excessive trips and harvest from the Delmarva Scallop Access Area would result in excessive fishing effort in the Delmarva Scallop Access Area, where effort controls are critical, thereby undermining conservation objectives of the FMP. Should excessive effort occur in the Delmarva Scallop Access Area, future management measures would need to be more restrictive. Based on the above, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), proposed rulemaking is waived because it would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest to allow a period for public comment. Furthermore, for the same reasons, there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness period for this action.

Start Authority

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

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Dated: March 30, 2009.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E9-7460 Filed 3-30-09; 4:15 pm]

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