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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 Limited Access General Category Scallop Fishery to Individual Fishing Quota 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), Commerce.

ACTION:

Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces that the Limited Access General Category (LAGC) Scallop Fishery will close to individual fishing quota (IFQ) scallop vessels until it re-opens on June 1, 2009, under current regulations. This action is based on the determination that the first quarter scallop total allowable catch (TAC) for LAGC IFQ scallop vessels (including vessels issued an IFQ letter of authorization (LOA) to fish under appeal), is projected to be landed. This action is being taken to prevent IFQ scallop vessels from exceeding the 2009 first quarter TAC, in accordance with the regulations implementing Amendment 11 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP), enacted by Framework 19 to the FMP, and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

DATES:

The closure of the LAGC fishery to all IFQ scallop vessels is effective 0001 hr local time, May 6, 2009, through May 31, 2009.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulations governing fishing activity in the LAGC fishery are found at §§ 648.59 and 648.60. Regulations specifically governing IFQ scallop vessel operations Start Printed Page 21560in the LAGC fishery are specified at § 648.53(a)(8)(iii). These regulations authorize vessels issued a valid IFQ scallop permit to fish in the LAGC fishery under specific conditions, including a TAC. The TACs were established by the final rule that implemented Framework 19 to the FMP (73 FR 30790 May 29, 2008) and included a TAC of 1,606,508 lb (728,699.8 kg) that may be landed by IFQ vessels during the first quarter of the 2009 fishing year. The regulations at § 648.53(a)(8)(iii) require the LAGC fishery to be closed to IFQ vessels once the NMFS Northeast Regional Administrator has determined that the TAC is projected to be landed.

Based on dealer reporting and vessel pre-landing reports through Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS), a projection concluded that, given current activity levels by IFQ scallop vessels in the area, 1,606,508 lb (728,699 kg) will have been landed on May 4, 2009. Therefore, in accordance with the regulations at § 648.53(a)(8)(iii), the LAGC scallop fishery is closed to all IFQ vessels as of 0001 hr local time, May 4, 2009. IFQ scallop vessels are not allowed to fish for, possess, or retain scallops; or declare, or initiate, a scallop trip following this closure for the remainder of the 2009 first quarter, through May 31, 2009. The LAGC scallop fishery will re-open to IFQ scallop vessels on June 1, 2009.

Classification

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

This action closes the LAGC scallop fishery to all IFQ scallop vessels until June 1, 2009,. The regulations at § 648.53(a)(8)(iii) require such action to ensure that IFQ scallop vessels do not exceed the 2009 first quarter TAC. The LAGC scallop fishery opened for the first quarter of the 2009 fishing year at 0001 hours on March 1, 2009. Data indicating the IFQ scallop fleet has landed all of the 2009 first quarter TAC have only recently become available. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment because it would be contrary to the public interest to allow a period public comment. If implementation of this closure is delayed to solicit prior public comment, the quota for this quarter will be exceeded, thereby undermining the conservation objectives of the FMP. Also, if the magnitude of any overage is significant, it would warrant a decrease in the third quarter quota. This would have a negative economic impact on vessels that fish seasonally in that period. The AA further finds, pursuant to 5 U.S.C 553(d)(3), good cause to waive the 30 day delay in effectiveness for the reasons stated above.

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

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Dated: May 4, 2009.

Kristen C. Koch,

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

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[FR Doc. E9-10673 Filed 5-4-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-S