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Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason Adjustment to the 2010 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amount

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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


Temporary rule; inseason adjustment; request for comments.


NMFS is adjusting the 2010 total allowable catch (TAC) amount for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Pacific cod fishery. This action is necessary because NMFS has determined this TAC is incorrectly specified. This action will ensure the BSAI Pacific cod TAC does not exceed the appropriate amount based on the best available scientific information for Pacific cod in the BSAI. This action is consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP).


Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), December 29, 2009, until the effective date of the final 2010 and 2011 harvest specifications for BSAI groundfish, unless otherwise modified or superseded through publication of a notification in the Federal Register.

Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., January 13, 2010.


Send comments to Sue Salveson, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by RIN 0648-XT41, by any one of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal
  • Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
  • Fax: (907) 586-7557.
  • Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK.

All comments received are a part of the public record. No comments will be posted to for public viewing until after the comment period has closed. Comment will generally be posted without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.Start Printed Page 68718

NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

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Josh Keaton, 907-586-7228.

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NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the BSAI exclusive economic zone according to the FMP prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (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 2010 Pacific cod TAC in the BSAI was set at 193,030 metric tons (mt) by the final 2009 and 2010 harvest specification for groundfish in the BSAI (74 FR 7359, February 17, 2009).

In December 2009, the Council recommended a 2010 Pacific cod TAC of 168,780 mt for the BSAI. This amount is less than the 193,030 mt established by the final 2009 and 2010 harvest specification for groundfish in the BSAI (74 FR 7359, February 17, 2009). The TAC recommended by the Council is based on the Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report (SAFE), dated November 2009, which NMFS has determined is the best available scientific information for this fishery.

Steller sea lions occur in the same location as the Pacific cod fishery and are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Pacific cod is a principal prey species for Steller sea lions in the BSAI. The seasonal apportionment of Pacific cod harvest is necessary to ensure the groundfish fisheries are not likely to cause jeopardy of extinction or adverse modification of critical habitat for Steller sea lions. The regulations at § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) specify how the Pacific cod TAC shall be apportioned.

In accordance with § 679.25(a)(2)(i)(B), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that, based on the November 2009 SAFE report for this fishery, the current BSAI Pacific cod TAC is incorrectly specified. Consequently, the Regional Administrator is adjusting the 2010 Pacific cod TAC to 168,780 mt in the Bering Sea subarea.

Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(7), Table 5b of the final 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (74 FR 7359, February 17, 2009) is revised for the 2010 Pacific cod TACs consistent with this adjustment.


[Amounts are in metric tons]

Gear sectorPercent2010 share of gear sector total2010 share of sector total2010 seasonal apportionment
Total TAC100168,780n/an/an/a
CDQ10.718,059n/asee § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B)n/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear60.891,638n/an/an/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA1n/a500n/asee § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(B)n/a
Hook-and-line/pot sub-totaln/a91.138n/an/an/a
Hook-and-line catcher/processor48.7n/a73,000Jan 1-Jun 10 Jun 10-Dec 3137,230 35,770
Hook-and-line catcher vessel ≥ 60 ft LOA0.2n/a300Jan 1-Jun 10 Jun 10-Dec 31153 147
Pot catcher/processor1.5n/a2,248Jan 1-Jun 10 Sept 1-Dec 311,147 1,102
Pot catcher vessel ≥ 60 ft LOA8.4n/a12,591Jan 1-Jun 10 Sept 1-Dec 316,422 6,170
Catcher vessel < 60 ft LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear2n/a2,998n/an/a
Trawl catcher vessel22.133,309n/aJan 20-Apr 1 Apr 1-Jun 10 Jun 10-Nov 124,649 3,664 4,996
AFA trawl catcher/processor2.33,467n/aJan 20-Apr 1 Apr 1-Jun 10 Jun 10-Nov 12,600 867 0
Amendment 8013.420,197n/aJan 20-Apr 1 Apr 1- Jun 10 Jun 10-Nov 115,844 5281 0
Amendment 80 limited accessn/an/a3,319Jan 20-Apr 1 Apr 1- Jun 10 Jun 10-Nov 12,489 830 0
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Amendment 80 cooperativesn/an/a16,878Jan 20-Apr 1 Apr 1- Jun 10 Jun 10-Nov 112,659 4,220 0
Jig1.42.110n/aJan 1-Apr 30 Apr 30-Aug 31 Aug 31-Dec 311,266 422 422
1 The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator approves an ICA of 500 mt for 2010 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.


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 allow for harvests that exceed the appropriate allocations for Pacific cod based on the best scientific information available. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of December 14, 2009, and additional time for prior public comment would result in conservation concerns for the ESA-listed Steller sea lions.

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.

Under § 679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit written comments on this action to the above address until January 13, 2010.

This action is required by § 679.22 and § 679.25 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: December 18, 2009.

Emily H. Menashes,

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

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[FR Doc. E9-30534 Filed 12-28-09; 8:45 am]