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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska

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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; prohibition of retention.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is prohibiting retention of Pacific cod by vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). NMFS is requiring that catch of Pacific cod in this area be treated in the same manner as prohibited species and discarded at sea with a minimum of injury.

This action is necessary because the amount of the 2009 total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific cod apportioned to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component in this area has been reached.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), November 5, 2009, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2009.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Obren Davis, 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 amount of the 2009 Pacific cod TAC apportioned to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component in the Central Regulatory Area (Statistical Areas 620 and 630, between 147 degrees and 159 degrees W. longitudes) of the GOA is 21,277 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (74 FR 7333, February 17, 2009).

In accordance with § 679.20(d)(2), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the amount of the 2009 Pacific cod TAC apportioned to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA has been reached. Therefore, NMFS is requiring that further catches of Pacific cod caught by vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA be treated as prohibited species in accordance with § 679.21(b). This inseason action does not apply to vessels fishing under a cooperative quota permit in the cooperative fishery in the Rockfish Program for the Central 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 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 prohibition of retention of Pacific cod by any vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component in the Central Regulatory Area of 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 November 4, 2009.

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: November 5, 2009.

James P. Burgess,

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

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[FR Doc. E9-27042 Filed 11-5-09; 4:15 am]

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